National Highway Transportation Safety Administration

NHTSA Stories September 12

In the wake of today’s NTSB report about Tesla’s autopilot crash, DOT/NHTSA has released updated guidelines on autonomous vehicle systems, meant to be used by state and local governments and vehicle manufacturers to help facilitate the transition to self-driving cars.  NHTSA claims in the introduction to the report that 94% of fatal crashes are the result of human error, and that autonomous drive systems have the potential to reduce that number significantly, saving tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars of lost economic activity each year in the process.

NHTSA also claims that they expect “fully automated safety features” and “highway autopilot” in the years 2025+, which is significantly later than Tesla’s timeline for the same technology.  Tesla is rather close to “highway autopilot” already – though Tesla’s system is “level 2” (partial automation) on the highway and NHTSA seems to be thinking more about level 4-5 (high/full automation, not requiring reminders that the driver keep paying attention).

Here’s the full document, which is targeted more towards policy wonks, whereas the main site is meant to appeal to everyone, with FAQs and nice graphics.

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NHTSA Stories July 14, 2016

In the now all too familiar and tragic event that occurred on May 7th, 2016, involving one of Ohio’s biggest ‘Teslavangelist’, we now have the official letter (via Reddit) sent to Tesla last Friday, the 8th, from the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can read it in full below. expand full story

NHTSA Stories July 6, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a statement confirming that it will investigate the recent Tesla Model X rollover accident in PA “to determine whether automated functions were in use at the time of the crash.”

Tesla also updated an earlier statement to clarify its review of the accident citing very little information about the event due to a lack of contact with the driver. expand full story

NHTSA Stories July 1, 2016

The first reported death in a Tesla Model S crash while the Autopilot was activated has been shaking the Tesla and self-driving car community since yesterday. The tragic accident happened May 7th in Florida, but we only learned about it yesterday when Tesla revealed that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched preliminary evaluation in Tesla’s Autopilot system.

We don’t pretend to know everything about the accident, but based on the information released by the Florida Highway Patrol, Tesla and NHTSA, we try to convey our best understanding of the events and the possible impact of the regulator’s probe on the Autopilot. expand full story

NHTSA Stories June 30, 2016

A fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S on Autopilot and a tractor-trailer, which is just now coming to light but happened last month, prompts a preliminary evaluation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The evaluation will determine whether the system worked according to expectations and it is the first step before an investigation which could theoretically lead to a recall.

Tesla issued a statement regarding the accident, which you can read in full below:

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NHTSA Stories June 15, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to release its federal guidelines for autonomous vehicles in July and the agency’s senior administrator, Dr. Mark Rosekind, said to expect something different from the regulators to reflect the disrupting aspect of self-driving technologies.

Rosekind made the comment during a panel at the TU-Automotive auto-tech conference in Novi (via readwrite):

“What is unusual is everybody expects regulation comes out and that’s what it is forever, and NHTSA’s job is react and enforce it. That will not work with this area. I think we’re going to have something different in July.”

The regulator said that NHTSA’s rules will focus on four main areas. expand full story

NHTSA Stories June 13, 2016

Following reports of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) probing Tesla over a possible problem with the Model S’ suspension and the automaker’s goodwill agreement, it came to light that several false and/or misleading complaints were filed with NHTSA.

A spokesperson for NHTSA confirmed that the agency has not found any safety issue with Tesla’s suspensions and that the company has clarified the language in its goodwill agreement. It considers the issue resolved, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared on Twitter that something suspicious is going on with the suspension complaints:

It can be difficult to understand why would someone falsify complaints to an official agency, which can be harmful to both the company and time-wasting for the regulators. The most obvious explanation is always money, and Tesla brought it up in a blog post following last week’s events. expand full story

NHTSA Stories June 10, 2016

The news of NHTSA regulators looking into a potential problem with the Tesla Model S’ suspension blew up yesterday after literally hundreds of media outlets, from Reuters to the NY Times, picked up the story. There are a lot of misleading headlines and reports out there right now so let’s focus on the facts we know so far.

The actual potential problem with Tesla’s suspension is only part of what prompt NHTSA to probe the situation. Media are widely reporting that Tesla attempted to cover up the alleged problems by making owners sign a non-disclosure agreement.

NHTSA spokesman Bryan Thomas:

“The agency immediately informed Tesla that any language implying that consumers should not contact the agency regarding safety concerns is unacceptable, and N.H.T.S.A. expects Tesla to eliminate any such language. Tesla representatives told N.H.T.S.A. that it was not their intention to dissuade consumers from contacting the agency.”

Update: Tesla reportedly agreed to update the Goodwill agreement to clarify that anyone signing it is in no way prohibited from reporting the repair to regulators.

First of, there’s currently no investigation or recall over this issue with Tesla. NHTSA is currently reviewing the case in order to decide if it needs to open a formal investigation. We will update if we get more information from the agency, but Tesla is already out with a statement claiming that there’s no defect on the Model S’ suspension and that the ‘NDA’ was not aimed at dissuading anyone to contact regulators, but they will work with NHTSA to correct it if there’s a need. expand full story

NHTSA Stories May 5, 2016

Takata’s already massive airbag recall just got bigger this week by adding 35 to 40 million more airbags, which adds three more automakers to the already long list of affected vehicles: Tesla, Jaguar and Land Rover are now included in the latest recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  said that it is expanding and accelerating the recall of Takata airbag inflators, which have been tied to “ten deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States”.

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NHTSA Stories March 17, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced today that they have officially brokered a historic deal that will see virtually all new cars in the US equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) by 2022.

The deal includes 20 automakers representing more than 99 percent of the U.S. auto market. expand full story

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