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The NHTSA Releases First Report on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

The NHTSA has recently released data collected from vehicles installed with SAE level 2 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Using this data, the agency hopes to scrutinize the functioning of ADAS, and their involvement in crashes. It is also hoping to analyze vehicle software programs, and driver-technology interactions further.

Manufacturers incorporated ADAS systems into vehicles to help reduce accidents due to human error. Over the years, this technology has helped in blindspot detection, pedestrian detection and avoidance, traffic sign recognition, and automatic braking.

Companies implemented ADAS in five levels, each more sophisticated than the subsequent. Level 1 is the basic driver assistance, including cruise control as the primary role. Level 2 is partial automation which performs steering and acceleration under human supervision.

New Directive for Automakers

In June 2021, the NHTSA required all automakers to report any crashes involving vehicles installed with SAE Level 2 ADAS. The agency mandated manufacturers to report a crash if the advanced driver assistance system was in use within 30 seconds of the impact.

On the same note, crashes were to be reported if the collision caused deaths, airbag deployment, serious injuries, and vehicle tow-away. Finally, manufacturers had to notify the NHTSA if the crash involved a vulnerable road user like a cyclist or pedestrian.

The NHTSA received a total of 392 level 2 ADAS-related crashes following the new rule. One hundred and sixteen of these crashes were collisions between vehicles, while four crashes involved vulnerable road users.

First Report is Released

As the NHTSA continues to examine accidents involving level 2 ADAS systems, it is also looking into levels 3-5. Level 3 automation is conditional, implying that the vehicle can perform most driving tasks, but a human override is required. On the other hand, level 4 vehicles are highly automated, performing all driving tasks but requiring georeferencing and human override. Level 5 involves full automation of vehicles where no human intervention is needed.

The NHTSA hopes that the recently released data will help manufacturers evaluate the performance of these systems in real life. As level 2 ADAS continues to be adapted into many vehicles, the agency hopes to provide monthly updates of newly collected data.

Complications with the Data

While this data may guarantee future vehicle and road safety, the results displayed so far are insufficient to provide meaningful insights. More data needs to be collected to allow for further analysis.

Incidents involving vehicles with telemetry capabilities are advantageous as they provide more data without the usual technicalities involved. While this technology provides data in real time, not all manufacturers have incorporated telematic systems in their automobiles.

The NHTSA also noted a delay in conveying information to the manufacturer about crashes. Therefore, they may only get notified of consumer reports. In other situations, the manufacturer may not be notified at all. Due to these variations, the data acquired so far may be unreliable in showing crash trends.

Consequently, the agency cannot use this information to compare different manufacturers’ performance as it is not normalized. In brief, the NHTSA cannot compare the crash numbers with other factors like the number of vehicles manufactured and the miles traveled.

NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff noted the efforts required to gather and analyze real-time safety data by claiming that a proper understanding of the data will serve them well.

“If you have been in an ADAS related accident, you may be entitled to compensation,” says Felix Gonzalez Accident and Injury Law Firm.


The NHTSA is working with automakers to ensure that advanced driver assistance systems are seamlessly adapted into automobiles. Although the process requires more data and time, future performance enhancement is expected.