In less than a year, nearly 400 crashes involving vehicles that use driver-assisted technology took place, according to data obtained from automakers. Five people were killed in these accidents, and six were seriously injured. This data was collected from July 2021 to May 2022.
The automated driver-assist systems are thought to be safer, eliminating much of the human error that goes into operating a vehicle. Tesla, which has 830,000 cars on the roads in the U.S., had the most occurrences, and their crashes took place while drivers used Autopilot, “Full Self-Driving, Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, and other systems.
Honda was behind Tesla with the number of incidents, at about 90 crashes, though they have about six million cars on U.S. roads. It should be noted that the data did not provide how many of Honda’s six million automobiles employ driver-assist technology. Subaru had only 10 incidents, and every remaining automaker had five or fewer crashes.
What is being done to mitigate self-driving car crashes?
In June of 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an order to over 100 automakers. This order informed car manufacturers that they must report serious crashes within one day of discovering the incident. That way, the agency and automakers can assess how the systems are performing and decide if further regulations are needed.
The order issued by the NHTSA is widely considered a bold one. “Until last year, NHTSA’s response to autonomous vehicles and driver assistance has been, frankly, passive,” said Matthew Wansley, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York who specializes in emerging automotive technologies. “This is the first time the federal government has directly collected crash data on these technologies.”
“As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world,” said Steven Cliff, the agency’s administrator.
Tesla says “full self-driving “ cars cannot drive themselves
Tesla accounted for nearly 70% of the crashes, which totaled 392. Though the automaker advertises its vehicles as “Full Self-Driving” and Autopilot, the Austin-based company says that the vehicles cannot drive themselves, and that drivers must be ready to intervene at all times. The five fatalities in these crashes all involved Tesla vehicles.
Safety experts are concerned, as some drivers relinquish active control of their cars when manufacturers label them as self-driving. Should there be a technology malfunction or extenuating circumstance, drivers are sometimes not prepared to take control of the vehicle as quickly as they would need to.
“This data could also prompt further voluntary and involuntary disclosures,” says Bryant Walker Smith, an associate professor in the University of South Carolina’s law and engineering schools, who specializes in emerging transportation technologies. “Some companies might willingly provide more context, especially about miles traveled, crashes ‘prevented’ and other indicators of good performance. Trial attorneys will be looking for patterns and even cases in these data.”
“All in all,” he said, “this is a good start.”
If you have been injured in an auto accident through no fault of your own, the experienced car crash attorneys at Allen & Allen are here to help. Call for a free consultation today, at 866-388-1307.