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Currently, NHTSA is reviewing Tesla’s Autopilot. Last week, it was updating its investigation into 830,000 Tesla vehicles equipped with the system.
Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) vehicles have turned out to be involved in more accidents while using driver assistance technology than any other carmaker. According to a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers and technology companies have reported more than 500 accidents since June 2021. Out of 392 total crashes reported to the NHTSA over the year ending May 21, Tesla accounted for 273. Honda followed with a number of 90, and more than 100 companies included in the survey reported 10 or fewer crashes each.
Following the report, safety experts and Senators raised concerns about the autopilot system. Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal said:
“We worry that some drivers today are using the technology as a convenience feature and are placing themselves and other road users in danger.”
In addition, they called for a deeper investigation of the “runaway industry” which is “out of control.”
About NHTSA’s Report
The report made by NHTSA is the first collection of data of its kind. To reflect the level of safety of the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), NHTSA required companies to immediately provide reports on all accidents that happened to vehicles equipped with ADAS and automated driving systems that companies are testing on public roads.
Matthew Wansley, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York, commented:
“Until last year, NHTSA’s response to autonomous vehicles and driver assistance has been, frankly, passive. This is the first time the federal government has directly collected crash data on these technologies.”
According to the report, a dozen carmakers revealed 392 crashes from July 2021 through May 15 of this year, 6 of them involved deaths, as well as 5 serious injuries were reported. Tesla was involved in as many as 273 accidents (which makes about 70 percent of total crashes), and 5 of them were fatal.
As safety experts have explained, ADAS systems allow drivers to relinquish active control of the car, believing that their cars are driving themselves. However, in an unpredictable situation, if the technology is not working, drivers may be unprepared to take control immediately. As a result, accidents happen.
NHTSA started requiring automakers to provide standard accident and usage data following a 2016 crash that killed a Tesla driver who was using the autopilot system. According to the automaker’s website, the system is “capable of automatically steering, accelerating and braking your car within its lane, but still requires the attention of the driver.”
Since then, NHTSA is reviewing Tesla’s Autopilot. Last week, it was updating its investigation into 830,000 Tesla vehicles equipped with the system. Besides, NHTSA has opened 35 special accident investigations on Tesla vehicles suspected of using ADAS. Those Tesla investigations have already found a total of 14 accident deaths.