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This article was published on June 30, 2021


FINALLY! US car makers now must report autonomous vehicle crashes

The NHTSA obliges automakers to file a crash report within 24 hours

FINALLY! US car makers now must report autonomous vehicle crashes
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has implementing a new policy that mandates automakers report incidents involving vehicles with semi and fully autonomous systems within 24 hours of being notified of a crash.

According to the Standing General Order issued on Tuesday, this applies to all vehicles equipped with a Level 2 advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) or with a Level 3 to 5 automated driving system (ADS), in case the systems are engaged during or right before the accident. 

All car companies operating such vehicles on the US public roads must report electronically through a form any crash that also involves:

  • a hospital-treated injury
  • a fatality
  • a vehicle tow-away
  • an air bag deployment
  • a vulnerable road user such as a pedestrian or bicyclist

What’s more, an updated report is due 10 days after learning of the crash, while reports must be updated monthly with new or additional information.

If car makers fail to comply with the order, they risk fines of up to $22,992 per day, and a maximum penalty reaching more than $100 million. 

As per Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator: 

NHTSA’s core mission is safety. By mandating crash reporting, the agency will have access to critical data that will help quickly identify safety issues that could emerge in these automated systems. In fact, gathering data will help instill public confidence that the federal government is closely overseeing the safety of automated vehicles. In fact, gathering data will help instill public confidence that the federal government is closely overseeing the safety of automated vehicles. 

The agency’s new rules come at a critical moment.

With companies like Waymo and Cruise having the green light for testing their autonomous fleets, and with some recent high-profile crashes involving automated systems (yes, I’m clearly insinuating Tesla), the need to establish appropriate regulations is crucial.

If (semi)autonomous vehicles are to be part of our lives, then they can’t operate, as up until now, within regulatory gray areas. Personally, I’m glad NHTSA isn’t joking about vehicle and road safety.


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