Tesla vehicles accounted for 70% of US crashes since July involving advanced driving assistance systems, more than any other carmaker, according to a road safety regulator.
Of the six fatalities listed in the data set, five were tied to Tesla vehicles.
Manufacturers and tech companies reported more than 500 crashes since June 2021, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an order requiring the information.
Two US senators called for a deeper probe of the “out-of-control industry”.
Car companies are rushing to add driver assistance systems, saying these improve safety by handling some manoeuvres, and US regulators are trying to understand the practical effect of the changes.
Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal told the NHTSA in a letter that “publicising the data alone is not enough. We urge NHTSA to … shed needed light on this out-of-control industry and impose guardrails to prevent more deadly crashes.”
Focus on Crashes Involving ‘Assisted Driving’ Systems
The current report is “difficult” to understand, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair Jennifer Homendy said in a statement.
“Tesla collects a huge amount of high-quality data, which may mean they’re over-represented in NHTSA’s release.”
The senators raised alarms about the high number of Tesla crashes. “We worry that some drivers today are using the technology as a convenience feature and are placing themselves and other road users in danger,” Markey and Blumenthal wrote.
The NHTSA ordered companies to quickly report all crashes involving advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and vehicles equipped with automated driving systems being tested on public roads.
“The data released today are part of our commitment to transparency, accountability and public safety,” Steven Cliff, the NHTSA administrator, said in a statement.
“New vehicle technologies have the potential to help prevent crashes, reduce crash severity and save lives.”
Of the 392 such crashes reported by a dozen automakers since July, Honda Motor identified 90 crashes.
Companies also reported 130 crashes involving prototype automated driving systems, while 108 involved no injuries and one was a serious injury crash.
Tesla has said Autopilot can “reduce the frequency and severity of traffic crashes and save thousands of lives each year.”
It pointed to the total traffic crash deaths in the US, which reached a 16-year high in 2021.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell