In a mandate issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), manufacturers of self-driving cars will be required to report all crashes of those vehicles within 24 hours of them happening. This action comes after a series of high-profile accidents involving self-driving cars, some of which have resulted in injury or death. This is meant to make the process more transparent, as numerous manufacturers are trying to move towards self-driven vehicles.
What is a Self-Driving Car?
The term “self-driving cars” refers to cars that are equipped with “driver assist” technology that is capable of driving the car on its own. Different types of self-driving cars have different levels of ability to drive by themselves, ranked from Level 1 (the lowest level) to Level 5 (the highest level). The higher the level of the car, the more able it is to drive on its own, although all self-driving cars are required to have a licensed human driver behind the wheel, regardless of how advanced the technology is.
What is This New Requirement?
The NHTSA has exercised its legal authority to require the reporting of all car crashes involving self-driving cars within 24 hours of them occurring. This report must include relevant information, such as whether there was a hospital-treated injury, a fatality, airbag deployment, or the need for a tow. In addition, they must disclose if the accident involved a pedestrian or cyclist. They also must make a much more detailed report within ten days, giving thorough details about the nature of the accident.
Why Did the NHTSA Issue This Rule?
The new mandate comes after several high profile accidents involving self-driving cars where the companies delayed reporting the accidents. One noteworthy case involved a Tesla vehicle using their Autopilot technology, which resulted in a passenger’s death. This rule will ensure auto manufacturers report these accidents in a timely fashion, preventing them from putting their reputation over the safety of passengers in these cars. New York City is also considering rules for self-driving cars, as companies are looking to test their vehicles on the city’s busy streets.
Why is This Important?
Auto manufacturers like Tesla and General Motors have been experimenting with self-driving cars for quite some time, with the intention of releasing these vehicles for public purchase within the next few years. However, with these accidents, it is clear that the technology still has a long way to go before it can be safely used. The new rule is meant to create more transparency about the technology, reducing the likelihood of similar accidents in the future.
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