Nearly 400 Self-Driving Car Accidents Reported Over 10 Month Period

The NHTSA reported there were six deaths linked to self-driving car accidents; five of them involving Tesla vehicles.

As auto makers continue to test and improve autonomous vehicle technology, federal traffic safety officials report that there were nearly 400 self-driving car accidents between July 1, 2021 and May 15, 2022, with most involving Tesla vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released data on a recent 10 month-period of autonomous vehicle crashes, which highlights the short-term risks associated with the evolving technology, which promises to greatly reduce the number of accidents nationwide in the long-term.

The report notes driver-assist technologies were involved in 392 crashes, including full self-driving cars, or autopilot, as well as parking assist and advanced driver assist features.

Tesla led the group, accounting for 273 crashes of the 392 crashes that involved self-driving technology overall. Six people died from the self-driving autopilot accidents and five were seriously injured. Five of the six fatalities were in Tesla vehicles.

Self-driving vehicles from Honda were involved in 90 accidents, 10 for Subaru, and five or fewer for Ford, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and Porsche each.

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The new data was part of an effort by the NHTSA to determine the safety of advanced driving systems as they become more commonly used on American roads. The agency has come under fire for not being more involved with automakers about self-driving capabilities and regulations. Until the NHTSA issued the order last year for more data, its response had been largely passive.

The agency plans to use the data as a guide to make regulations for the future. However, it could be difficult to make conclusions from the data, considering car manufacturers are allowed to redact details of the crashes from the reports.

The agency is also investigating 35 crashes since 2014, while Autopilot was activated, and nine that resulted in 14 deaths. It also opened a preliminary investigation into 16 incidents of Tesla vehicles using Autopilots crashing into emergency vehicles that stopped and had lights flashing.

There are roughly 830,000 Teslas in the US equipped with autopilot or driver-assistance technology. This is one reason Tesla accounted for 70% of reported crashes. Other brands like Ford, GM and BMW have similar driver-assistance systems, but far fewer of those vehicles have been sold.

“These technologies hold great promise to improve safety, but we need to understand how these vehicles are performing in real-world situations,” said NHTSA administrator Steven Cliff.

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