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Feds predict at least 200 automated vehicle crashes annually

NHTSA estimate based on California testing of ADS cars and heavy-duty trucks

Self-driving cars and trucks under testing or being deployed commercially will likely be involved in at least 200 crashes annually over the next three years, according to estimates by federal regulators.

In seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to gather new autonomous vehicle (AV) crash-data information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed on Wednesday what it considers accurate estimates – based on automated driving system (ADS) crashes reported in California – on what to expect from 110 AV manufacturers and operators that have been ordered to report additional and more current crash data.

“There were 105 ADS crashes reported to California in 2019,” according to the agency. “NHTSA believes that it is reasonable to assume that about half of all ADS testing in the United States is occurring in California. Therefore, NHTSA expects that there will be approximately 200 ADS crashes in a year that manufacturers and operators will be required to report to NHTSA.”

NHTSA also estimated the total annual “burden hours” associated with all reporting under the order to be 11,745 hours. With hourly labor costs estimated to be $93.21, total labor costs for the reporting companies will be approximately $1.17 million.

As outlined in NHTSA’s Standing General Order issued in June, the companies named in the order are required to report crashes that occur on public roads in the United States based on the following:

  • Within one day of learning of a crash, companies must report crashes involving a Level 2 ADAS [advanced driver assistance systems] or Levels 3-5 ADS-equipped vehicle that also involve a hospital-treated injury, a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, an airbag deployment or a vulnerable road user such as a pedestrian or bicyclist. An updated report is due 10 days after a company learns of the crash.
  • Every month, companies must report all other crashes involving an ADS-equipped vehicle that result in an injury or property damage.
  • Reports must be updated monthly with new or additional information.
  • Reports must be submitted for any reportable crash about which a company receives notice, beginning 10 days after the company is served with the order.
  • Reports must be submitted to NHTSA electronically using a form (sample here) that requires important information regarding the crash. NHTSA will use this information to identify crashes for follow-up.

Companies named in the general order include truck manufacturers Daimler Trucks North America (a unit of Daimler AG (OTC: DDAIF), Volvo Trucks, Navistar (NYSE: NAV) and Paccar Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR). Autonomous truck technology companies Embark Trucks, Kodiak Robotics, Locomation, Plus, Pronto AI and TuSimple were also included in the order.

In a request for comments to be published Thursday on a three-year extension of the OMB’s initial six-month data collection approval, NHTSA noted that while there are currently 108 companies named in the order, there will be an average of 110 reporting entities during each year of the proposed extension.

“NHTSA believes that additional reporting entities will be added to the general order during the proposed extension as new companies enter the market and begin developing and manufacturing ADS and ADAS technology and vehicles equipped with these technologies,” the agency stated. “NHTSA also believes that some existing reporting entities will be removed from the general order due to the cessation of operations or market consolidation.”

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  1. Where is the data?
    How many crashes per ton/mile for ADS vs human driver?
    What percentage of crashes were fault of ADS vehicle, vs other vehicles?

  2. More like. 20,000 lol. Just wait til it rains, snows, windy, foggy, icy, or goes through construction, road works, city driving, national holidays, rush hour, flat tire, breaks down, and needs fuel.

    80k pound computer driven missiles ain’t gonna be pretty at times.

    If I can’t get my new laptop to work right god help a level 4 truck with no driver.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.