Safety Performance of Advanced Vehicle Technologies Murky

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on NHTSA Releases Data on Safety Performance of Advanced Vehicle Technologies

What is advertised or claimed may not be what the software does and what non-computerized people do while driving.

The Department of Transportation’s efforts to increase roadway safety through innovation took a bumpy off-road turn yesterday when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the initial round of data collected through its Standing General Order of last year.*

The crashes, which automakers and operators reported to NHTSA from the time the SGO was issued last June, are clearly important. They provide NHTSA with direct information about crashes that occur with vehicles that have various levels of automated driving systems deployed at least 30 seconds before a crash occurred.**

It’s ironic that the report cites some troubling accidents and fatalities just as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is touting the advantages of Advanced Vehicle Technologies or Automated Driving Systems.*** “Vehicle technologies have the potential to substantially reduce or mitigate crashes and the injuries that they cause for everyone, but the potential safety impact of each technology varies by driver age because different age groups are over- or underrepresented in specific crash scenarios,” said IIHS in a research paper.

Automakers have been adding these systems at unprecedented rates recently since they are vital steps necessary on the road to autonomous vehicles. There are unexpected dire consequences accompanying the use of  these “safety systems.”

Some of the data show that since reporting requirements began, one crash reported for an ADS-equipped vehicle resulted in serious injuries, and 108 of the crashes resulted in no injuries. Of the 130 reported crashes for ADS-equipped vehicles, 108 involved collisions with another vehicle, and 11 involved a vulnerable road user, such as a pedestrian or cyclist.

For vehicles with SAE L2 ADAS, the data show that alleged serious injuries or a fatality occurred in 11 of the 98 crashes where information on injuries was reported. Of the reported crashes for SAE L2 ADAS, at least 116 of the collisions were with another vehicle, and at least four involved a vulnerable road user.

The SGO, issued in June 2021, requires for the first time that manufacturers and operators of vehicles equipped with SAE L2 ADAS or SAE Levels 3-5 ADS report to NHTSA certain crashes when the systems are engaged. The SGO is a first step toward helping the Department take a more data-driven approach to ensuring that AV technology is deployed safely and will help inform future actions, including those to educate consumers and build confidence in advanced vehicle technologies.

“The data released today are part of our commitment to transparency, accountability and public safety,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator. “New vehicle technologies have the potential to help prevent crashes, reduce crash severity and save lives, and the Department is interested in fostering technologies that are proven to do so; collecting this data is an important step in that effort. 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.”

* The SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems summary report is available here, while the SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems summary report is available here. Going forward, NHTSA will release data updates monthly.

** click here for> SAE Autonomous Driving Levels explained at AutoInformed

*** Cox, Aimee E. / Mueller, Alexandra S. / Cicchino, Jessica B. click here: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, May 2022

Their Conclusions: Vehicle technologies have the potential to substantially reduce or mitigate crashes and the injuries that they cause for everyone, but the potential safety impact of each technology varies by driver age because different age groups are over- or underrepresented in specific crash scenarios. Practical applications: With the older driver population growing, these findings underscore the need to bring intersection assistance technologies to the consumer market. At the same time, everyone stands to benefit from currently available crash avoidance features and improved headlights, so their use should be promoted among all drivers.

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