Are autonomous vehicles safe? Are they safer than vehicles driven by people? Is one type of autonomous vehicle safer than another? Last week NHTSA released the data it gathered over the last year pursuant to last summer’s Standing General Order requiring autonomous vehicle manufacturers and operators to report crashes in which autonomous driving systems were in use. NHTSA reported separately on data involving (a) advanced driver assistance systems (“ADAS,” i.e. SAE Level 2) and (b) automated driving systems (“ADS,” i.e. SAE levels 3-5). What’s the upshot from NHTSA’s data drop? Well, it’s complicated.
Continue Reading Are Autonomous Vehicles Safe? NHTSA Releases Murky Data on 2021-2022 AV Crashes

Advanced vehicle control systems, including autonomous functionality, present novel liability considerations for the auto industry. While current law provides a useful framework to assess manufacturer liability, things may change as the “human error” factor is effectively eliminated as an overwhelming cause of vehicle crashes.

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On November 19, 2020, NHTSA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) asking interested parties and the public to provide the agency with information intended to help NHTSA devise a “Framework for Automated Driving Safety” that will allow the agency to implement safety standards for the operation and performance of automated driving systems. Comments are due 60 days after the ANPRM is published in the Federal Register. NHTSA last addressed AV in March, when it issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing occupant safety and crashworthiness for AVs that do not have typical seating configurations. This notice addresses operation of the automated systems in SAE Level 4 and 5 vehicles. 
Continue Reading NHTSA Releases Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking For Automated Driving System Safety