The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has called for mandatory reporting of crashes involving assisted and automated driving systems in the EU. It also wants a central agency established to collect the data, supervise in-depth crash investigations and oversee the rollout of new assisted and automated driving technologies.
According to the ETSC, the US-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its first set of data on crashes involving vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems in June 2022. In the 10 months since mandatory reporting began, there have been around 400 reported incidents.
However, Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director at ETSC, said there is no equivalent to the NHTSA that covers the whole of the EU.
“A car approved in one member state can be sold across the EU. For example, a car approved in the Netherlands by RDW, such as a Tesla, can be sold in any EU country. The new Mercedes Level 3 automated low-speed driving system was approved by the KBA in Germany for the German market, and they will most likely be responsible for EU-wide approval of the Mercedes system too,” Avenoso said.
“What if a driver spots a problem? In the US, anyone can report a defect to NHTSA. Likewise, in theory, in the EU, anyone can report a vehicle defect to a national authority. But see if you can find the webpage for your country to do that easily.
“Did you hear about Tesla vehicles and ‘phantom braking’ recently? If so, that was based on reports made in America to NHTSA. Is that problem occurring in Europe? Good luck finding out.”
According to Avenoso, when a vehicle recall occurs, it is reported in a central EU database, but the reports published give no information on the number of incidents or how many people might have been injured as a result of a defect.
“While it’s true that, in general, the EU is ahead of the USA on vehicle safety standards, on transparency on defects or potential problems with ADAS systems, not so much. And these crashes are happening in the EU. A report by the Dutch Safety Board, published in 2019, investigated several collisions involving assisted driving systems. At the EU level? Nothing,” Avenoso said.
“Reporting and investigating crashes are getting even more important now that computers are taking over some driving tasks. If computer code or sensors cause a problem that contributed to a crash, we need to know so we can prevent future problems.”