NHTSA Seeks Driver-Assist Data from Other Automakers Amid Tesla (TSLA) Probe

September 14, 2021 3:37 PM EDT

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NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation sent letters Monday to 12 automakers, including Ford (NYSE: F), General Motors (NYSE: GM), Toyota (NYSE: TM), and Volkswagen, to gather information for comparing vehicles equipped with Level 2 driver-assist systems, where the vehicle has the ability to control steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under certain conditions.

For each automaker, the NHTSA is seeking the number of vehicles equipped with Level 2 systems that have been manufactured for sale, lease, or operation in the U.S. as well as the cumulative mileage covered with the systems engaged and a log of the most recent updates to the systems.

The agency also is requesting all consumer complaints, field reports, crash reports, and lawsuits that may relate to the driver-assist systems.

The request comes amidst an investigation into 12 Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) crashes involving emergency vehicles. NHTSA's safety probe covers an estimated 765,000 Teslas from the 2014 to 2021 model years. Most of the crashes occurred after dark, and according to reports, the accidents resulted in 17 injuries and one death.

The agency is also asking that the automakers describe road and driving conditions where the systems are intended to be used, as well as the methods and technologies used to prevent usage outside the operational design domain. In addition, automakers must provide an overview of their approach to enforce driver engagement while these systems are in use.

Automakers that fail to respond or refuse to act could face civil penalties of up to nearly $115 million.

Drivers using Level 2 systems on their vehicles must remain fully engaged in the driving task. No automaker sells a vehicle to the public today that is self-driving.

By Michael Elkins | Michael.Elkins@streetinsider.com

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