Technology is changing how we drive and interact with our cars. Automakers are introducing new systems that monitor, nudge, and downright take over some driving processes. No system is perfect, but there’s little information about when those imperfections occur in these new safety systems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hopes to shine some light on these emerging technologies and potential issues with new reporting rules. 

NHTSA has announced new guidelines that will help it collect crash reports of vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving systems. The agency hopes to add transparency to these new technologies that will be assisting drivers behind the wheel, collecting crash data on SAE Levels 2-5 vehicles involved in accidents. Car, hardware, and software manufactures will be required to report crashes where Level 2-5 systems were engaged during or immediately before a crash.

Gallery: 2021 Cadillac Escalade Tech Review

Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems have proliferated throughout the industry and include features like lane-centering assistance and adaptive cruise control. However, Level 2 systems require the drivers remain engaged with driving the vehicle, too. The new data collection will help NHTSA increase transparency about safety while potentially identifying common patterns or problems that could exist across the industry or tech system. These systems are advertised as making driving safer, but they still require driver diligence behind the wheel to work perfectly.

Manufacturers will have to report an accident involving a Level 2-5-equipped vehicle within one day, with an updated report due 10 days after learning about the crash. A report is required if the accident involved a hospital-treated injury, a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, or an airbag deployment. They also have to report any crash with “vulnerable road users,” like a pedestrian. As more advanced driver systems get introduced, transparency and data will be vital to regulating various systems safely without hurting innovation.

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