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Cars With Driver-Assist Tech Involved in 100s of Crashes, NHTSA Data Reveals

Tesla, Honda and Subaru report the most crashes involving advanced driver-assistance systems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says.

Cracked windshield with emergency vehicle lights showing through
Tesla accounted for 273 out of the 392 crashes involving advanced driver-assistance systems.
Getty Images/James Noble

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday released initial data on the nearly 400 crashes since last summer that involved vehicles with various levels of automated driving systems. In these crashes, six people died and five were seriously injured. 

Vehicles equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), which offer features such as lane centering assistance and adaptive cruise control, were involved in 392 crashes over a roughly nine-month period starting in July 2021, according to the NHTSA data.

Tesla accounted for 273 crashes, Honda 90 and Subaru 10, with other carmakers reporting five or fewer ADAS-equipped crashes. 

To be included in this data, the NHTSA said, "various levels of automated systems" needed to be in use at least 30 seconds before a crash.

NHTSA separately released crash data on cars with fully automated driving systems, which are intended to eventually operate without a human driver but aren't available yet to consumers. Over the nine-month span starting last July, 130 crashes were recorded, with Alphabet-owned Waymo accounting for 62 of them.

NHTSA said the initial data has limitations and isn't comprehensive. 

"As we gather more data, NHTSA will be able to better identify any emerging risks or trends and learn more about how these technologies are performing in the real world," NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said. The agency plans to release monthly updates going forward. 

Vehicles with automated systems represent a small portion of overall car crashes in the US. In 2020, for example, 8.5 million passenger vehicles were involved in crashes, including more than 41,000 of them in fatal crashes, according to the NHTSA.

Tesla didn't immediately respond to CNET's request for comment. The automaker has no public relations department that can typically field such requests.

A Waymo spokesperson said there is benefit in releasing this information to the public.

"We see value in having nationally standardized and uniform crash reporting during this early stage of the development and deployment of autonomous driving technology, and there's public benefit in NHTSA sharing its findings," the Waymo spokesperson said in a statement, adding that reporting should be refined in order to "limit confusion and potentially enable more meaningful comparison."