Led by its new chief, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration is focused on evaluating data to set standards that make automated vehicle technology as safe as possible.  -  Photo:  pixabay.com

Led by its new chief, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration is focused on evaluating data to set standards that make automated vehicle technology as safe as possible.

Photo: pixabay.com

Steven Cliff, the newly appointed head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the agency is boosting its efforts to evaluate automated vehicle technology so it can determine what regulations are needed to ensure safety for all road users, reports the Associated Press (AP).

Presently, the government agency is in the process of assessing data recently submitted by automakers and tech companies. While Cliff believes federal standards are necessary to regulate driver assisted technology, he is wary of rolling our new rules that could end up compromising safety, notes the report.

Goal number one is to better understand how specific new technology should perform. Only then can NHTSA define the standard that the technology must meet as well as determine an objective way to measure performance to see if it complies with the new regulation it sets.

Until recently, NHTSA was in no position to do either. The agency simply had no data on automated vehicle crashes.

Steven Cliff is credited with prompting the NHTSA to require automated vehicle reporting — an effort that proved some 400 crashes were due to the systems, with Teslas responsible for the most.  -  Photo: NHTSA

Steven Cliff is credited with prompting the NHTSA to require automated vehicle reporting — an effort that proved some 400 crashes were due to the systems, with Teslas responsible for the most.

Photo: NHTSA

It was Cliff who prompted the agency to require reporting by manufacturers of automated vehicles. Recently, NHTSA released data that covers July 2021 to May 2022, which found that automated vehicles were linked to some 400 crashes.

Of the nearly 400 crashes reported by all automakers, Teslas were involved in more collisions than all other automakers combined. Since Cliff came on board, NHTSA has increased enforcement efforts aimed at Tesla, including a push for a dozen recalls since the start of 2021, notes the report.  

In addition to reviewing the recent crash data associated with driver assisted technology, under Cliff’s direction NHTSA is also working on performance standards for automatic emergency braking, which it plans to require on all new passenger vehicles and heavy trucks, according to AP.

The braking systems hold great promise for reducing traffic fatalities. NHTSA plans to set metrics for how the systems detect objects to verify that the technology responds appropriately.

Other safety initiatives that Cliff has been vocal about pushing forward in the future include better seatbelt compliance, implementing mandates to reduce drunk driving, enhanced roadway design, and reducing speed limits, according to the report.

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