NHTSA Investigates Safety Defects and Non-Compliance IssuesMarch 8, 2019
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for keeping people safe on roads and highways in the United States, which involves a range of education initiatives, research studies, safety standards and enforcement activities.
As advanced vehicle technologies continue to develop to reduce and prevent car accidents, the NHTSA is investigating ways to encourage innovation in areas like automated technologies.
The agency will also continue to conduct industry-wide research into advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in order to develop the appropriate regulations while continuing to encourage innovation.
Changes at the NHTSA
The NHTSA has hired several new investigators, reorganized its enforcement office, and plans to significantly increase the headcount in its Office of Defects Investigation. In addition, the agency will continue its data-driven approach to determining whether to open an investigation.
The NHTSA is also looking into more sophisticated data-mining procedures that will help leverage the questionnaires, warning reports, accident reports, and other data that it collects on a regular basis.
The agency plans to develop a matrix for a range of risk categories, which will track the severity of a condition against the frequency. This data would be used to determine whether to open a formal investigation into a particular safety issue.
Further, in an effort to be more objective and transparent, the agency plans to make this information public.
Agency Criticisms & Response
The NHTSA was recently criticized by the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, who said the NHTSA’s processes lacked documentation and management controls. The agency was also criticized for not following up on documents that manufacturers did not submit during recalls, as well as a failure to effectively monitor the scope of recalls and a failure to verify that a recall has been completed.
In response to the criticisms, the NHTSA is requiring all manufacturers to submit the required documents on a timely basis. The agency also made changes to the Recall Management Division (RMD), which is in charge of recalls filed by manufacturers.
Regulating Autonomous Vehicles
As autonomous technology continues to develop, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a report entitled, Automated Vehicles 3.0: Preparing for the Future of Transportation. One of the key principles of the report focused on removing mandatory regulations that could limit innovation, and issuing voluntary guidelines instead.
Current regulations may inhibit the development of alternative designs, like non-traditional seating arrangements. The report suggests that the DOT and the NHTSA should adapt the definitions of “driver” and “operator” to automated systems.
The NHTSA has requested public comments, as well as held meetings to discuss some of the potential obstacles related to autonomous functions in motor vehicles. The agency is also looking into a pilot program to collect information on autonomous vehicles and standards involving advanced technologies, including adaptive driving beam systems and camera-based rear-visibility systems.
The agency is in the process of evaluating and testing ADAS through a number of NHTSA and DOT-sponsored studies.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Automotive Safety Defects
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