Tesla vehicles have been involved in nearly 300 accidents involving driver assistance systems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that from July last year through May 15, vehicles equipped with Autopilot, Total Self-Driving, Traffic Aware Cruise Control or other driver assistance systems were involved in 273 accidents.
The next automaker with the highest was Honda. Honda reported 90 ADAS accidents, but Honda says there are about six million vehicles on United States roads. Subaru was next with 10, and all other automakers reported five or fewer.
Tesla has about 830,000 vehicles with the systems on the road, and while CEO Elon Musk has claimed accidents can’t be Tesla’s fault – as extracted data shows Autopilot isn’t active in collisions – NHTSA has said that it found 16 instances where the autopilot “aborted vehicle control less than a second before initial impact.” Tesla’s features are considered assistance systems in which the driver is liable at all times.
In a June 2021 order, NHTSA required more than 100 automakers and automated vehicle technology companies to report major accidents within one day of learning, and to report less severe accidents by the 15th day of the following month. The Agency is assessing how the systems are working and whether new regulations may be needed.
“As we collect more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world,” said Steven Cliff, the agency’s administrator.
NHTSA also said five people were killed and six seriously injured in the ADAS accidents.
Tesla’s accident numbers could also be high because it uses telematics to monitor its vehicles and get real-time accident reports. Other automakers don’t have such a capability, so their reports may come slower or crashes may not be reported at all, NHTSA said. A message was left asking for Tesla to comment.
Tesla’s crashes accounted for nearly 72 percent of the 392 accidents reported by a dozen automakers. Although the Austin, Texas-based automaker calls its systems Autopilot and “Full Self-Driving,” it says the vehicles cannot drive themselves and drivers must be ready to intervene at any time.
Manufacturers were not required to state how many vehicles they have on the road with the systems, nor were they required to state how far those vehicles have driven or when the systems are used, NHTSA said. At this time, those numbers are unquantifiable, an agency official said.
However, NHTSA may later obtain such information. Now, with the new data, it can learn about crashes much faster than before. The agency said it is currently using the crash data to look for trends and discuss them with companies.
NHTSA has used the data to request a recall, initiate investigations and provide information for existing investigations, officials said. Also, they said it’s difficult to figure out how many drivers are actually using the technology.
“This will help our investigators quickly identify potential error trends that may arise,” Mr Cliff said. “This data will also help us identify accidents that we want to investigate and provide more information about how people in other vehicles interact with the vehicles.”
Honda said it packaged the systems to sell more of them, which could affect its numbers. “The number of vehicles that could theoretically be involved in a reportable event is much greater than the number of vehicles built by automakers with a less aggressive deployment strategy,” the company said.
Also, reports to NHTSA are based on unconfirmed customer testimonies as to whether automated systems were running at the time of a crash. These crashes may not qualify for reporting to the NHTSA after more data is collected, Honda said.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most automakers, said the data collected by the NHTSA alone is not enough to assess the safety of automated vehicle systems.
The NHTSA’s order also included companies operating fully autonomous vehicles, and 25 reported a total of 130 accidents. Google spin-off Waymo led at 62, followed by Transdev Alternative Services at 34, and General Motors-controlled Cruise LLC at 23.
Waymo has far more vehicles in service than any other company and operates a fully autonomous driving service in Arizona and California.
In 108 accidents involving fully autonomous vehicles, no injuries were reported, only one seriously injured. In most accidents, vehicles were hit from behind.
Additional coverage from the Associated Press