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IIHS and senators urge NHTSA to take action on automated driver assists

Iihs And Senators Urge Nhtsa To Take Action On Automated Driver Assists

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety woke up and chose violence with a recent article on its website. Saying his employer had become the de facto regulator on the subject, IIHS Senior Research Scientist David Kidd called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to do more about safe use of semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles.

Kidd’s writeup comes a few weeks after six U.S. senators sent a letter to NHTSA that raised grave concerns about its inaction to regulate automated driver assistance technologies. He echoed their concerns that drivers are misusing the tech, saying “automation can introduce new, often foreseeable risks.”

NHTSA has not required automakers and other companies to provide data on crashes involving automation technologies, making it difficult to evaluate their safety. Vehicles with advanced autonomous equipment are allowed to roam the roads without any additional safety or performance standards, and everyday drivers often incorrectly assume their vehicles’ aid systems make them self-driving. Kidd noted that automaker marketing and the names given to the features are at least partly to blame.

He pointed out that automated test fleets, like the ones operated by Cruise and Waymo, are in business without having to provide data about crashes and safety. Kidd agreed with the senators’ concerns about Cruise’s withholding of data from NHTSA and California officials, and he called out the company for knowingly deploying vehicles that often failed to detect children.

The IIHS has developed updated crash-testing and evaluation programs to test new vehicles’ ADAS systems. Still, it doesn’t have the regulatory teeth that the NHTSA does and cannot enforce the suggestions it makes. However, strongly worded articles like Kidd’s might help push NHTSA to take action. His closing statement read, “NHTSA is charged with saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing costs from traffic crashes. It’s time for the agency to take a hard look at how automated systems are affecting those goals.”


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