NHTSA recently issued a First Amended Standing General Order requiring electronic portal submission of crash incident data for automated and semi-autonomous vehicles. As of August 12, 2021, automated motor vehicle manufacturers, motor vehicle equipment manufacturers, and operators will be required to report and upload crash incident data within 24 hours to the NHTSA Incident Report Portal. The 24 hour incident crash reporting requirement is in effect for three years from the date of issuance of the Standing General Order (“SGO”), until June 29, 2024.
The First Amended Standing General Order supersedes but does not substantively change the requirements of NHTSA’s initial SGO, which NHTSA served on 108 major OEMs, robotics, electronics, AI, rideshare, and software companies on June 29, 2021. The SGO applies to manufacturers and operators of motor vehicle equipment and motor vehicles equipped with (i) SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (“ADAS”), which includes common safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, and (ii) SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems (“ADS”) (conditional to full driving automation).
The First Amended SGO and SGO are early demonstrations of NHTSA’s more aggressive regulatory and enforcement oversight of automated and semi-autonomous vehicles under Biden administration leadership. For the first time, NHTSA has imposed reporting obligations solely through regulatory action rather than as a result of a Congressional mandate. The 24 hour timeline for reporting is also a swifter timeline than Part 573 safety defect and noncompliance reporting under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and the monthly reporting requirement (even in the absence of crash incident data), is a swifter timeline than quarterly early warning reporting requirements under the TREAD Act. NHTSA also determines through the Orders that ADS and ADAS constitute “motor vehicle equipment” subject to regulation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
The SGO also provides three limited exceptions to public disclosure of the incident reports based on confidentiality claims under Part 512. The Order’s guidance signals a greater transparency approach to public safety information.
Who is Responsible for Reporting?
The SGO requires vehicle and equipment manufacturers and operators to report certain crashes that occur while the ADS or Level 2 ADAS is engaged, or immediately after it is in use, and to provide sufficient information for NHTSA to identify crashes warranting further follow-up. As with other reporting requirements, the SGO does not prioritize reports between manufacturers and other reporting entities. The SGO’s imposition of reporting requirements on operators as well as vehicle manufacturers, and its determination that ADS and Level 2 ADAS constitute “motor vehicle equipment” reflects a more expansive assertion of NHTSA authority over technology companies that supply automated systems to vehicle manufacturers.
Which Crashes Trigger Reporting?
Each incident that meets the following criteria requires submission of an incident report by a manufacturer and operator within one day of each entity learning of a crash, and an updated report within ten days:
- The crash occurred on a publicly accessible road in the United States;
- The ADS or ADAS was engaged at any time during the 30 seconds immediately prior to the crash through the conclusion of the crash; and
- The crash results in a hospital-treated injury, a fatality, a vehicle tow-away, an air bag deployment, or involved a vulnerable road user (e.g., pedestrian, cyclist, etc.).
Additionally, every month, companies must report all other crashes of an ADS or Level 2 ADAS-equipped vehicle that involve injury or property damage. If no crashes occur in any given month, reporting entities must submit a monthly incident report confirming the lack of any reportable information.
What Information is Collected and Disseminated?
The initial reports must include information on the reporting entity, vehicle, incident (date, time, scene, and crash severity details), and post-crash activities and data availability. NHTSA plans to review the reports to identify crashes for further follow-up, including potential Special Crash Investigations or requests for further information, such as Event Data Recorder data. NHTSA may also open defect investigations, as warranted.
The Order preemptively identifies the limited scope of information to be afforded confidential treatment, including: (1) the version of the ADAS/ADS with which a vehicle is equipped; (2) whether the vehicle was within its operational design domain at the time of the incident; and (3) the defect narrative.
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