Advanced driver assistance systems were linked to 392 crashes over a recent 10-month period, according to new data released by NHTSA.  -  Photo:  unsplash.com/Michael Jin

Advanced driver assistance systems were linked to 392 crashes over a recent 10-month period, according to new data released by NHTSA.

Photo: unsplash.com/Michael Jin

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released 10 months of crash data aimed at protecting the public from potential safety risks involving advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving systems (ADS).

The agency released two reports. In the report regarding ADAS specifically, NHTSA tracked 392 incidents from July 1 of last year through May 15.  In those incidents, six people were killed and five were seriously injured, reports the New York Times. Teslas operating with Autopilot, the more ambitious Full Self Driving mode, or any of their associated component features were in 273 crashes. Five of those Tesla crashes were fatal, notes the Times.

The data was collected under a Standing General Order that NHTSA issued last June requiring automakers to report crashes of vehicles with ADAS and ADS. One of the key concerns about advanced systems is that they often allow drivers to relinquish active control of the car and could lull them into a false sense of security, which can lead to driver complacency and ultimately, collisions.

Both the National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have applauded NHTSA’s efforts and recognized the data as a good “first step” toward improving safety of advanced systems. In a press release, NHTSA stated the “while not comprehensive, the data are important and provide NHTSA with immediate information about crashes that occur with vehicles that have various levels of automated systems deployed at least 30 seconds before the crash occurred.”

Approximately 830,000 Tesla cars in the United States are equipped with Autopilot or the company’s other driver-assistance technologies. This may be why Tesla vehicles accounted for nearly 70% of the reported crashes in the data released by NHTSA, notes the Times.

While Tesla reported the most ADAS crashes by far, Honda and Subaru ranked second and third — with 90 and 10 collisions, respectively, according to the NHTSA data. Ford, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, and Porsche each reported five or fewer crashes.

Other key findings in the ADAS crash data report concern what the vehicle collided with. For example, 116 of the ADAS vehicle collisions were with another vehicle. While 20 collided with a pole, another 78 collided with another fixed object. Four crashes involved a vulnerable road user — one cyclist and three pedestrians.

In a second report, NHTSA summarizes the crash data it collected regarding automated systems, or ADS, over the same 10-month period. Automakers submitted a total of 130 crashes involving ADS-equipped vehicles. While no fatalities were reported, one resulted in serious injury and 15 were associated with mild or moderate injuries.

As for what the ADS vehicles collided with, 108 crashed into another vehicle. Another 11 crashes involved vulnerable road users — seven with cyclists, two with motorcyclists, and two with electric scooters. 

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