Calls for More Data on Autonomous Vehicle Safety in San Francisco

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Kevin Mullin are urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to collect more detailed data on the operations of autonomous vehicles in San Francisco due to “serious safety concerns.” The legislators referenced incidents where autonomous vehicles obstructed emergency responders and public transit in a letter to the acting director of the NHTSA. They requested data on vehicle retrieval events, emergency response interference, and lane blockages, as well as how the vehicles handle unexpected situations like traffic signal and cell network outages.

Cruise and Waymo, two companies that operate hundreds of autonomous cars in San Francisco, have faced opposition from local officials. In August, the California Public Utilities Commission granted them the ability to operate vehicles 24/7 and charge passengers for rides, despite objections from San Francisco first responders and policymakers who believed the vehicles were not yet fit for the roads. The Department of Motor Vehicles issued a permit suspension to Cruise after a collision with a fire truck.

The current reporting requirements for incidents involving autonomous vehicles do not provide the necessary data to evaluate the overall safety of autonomous vehicles, according to Pelosi and Mullin. They believe that autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide safe transportation and reduce traffic accidents and pedestrian deaths, but more transparency from the industry is needed.

– The Standard