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Driver-Assistance Crashes Attract Closer U.S. Scrutiny

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Federal regulators are tightening their oversight of car crashes that involve advanced driver-assistance or automated-driving features, a shift that follows growing concern over the role that systems such as Tesla Inc.’s Autopilot have had in crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a new order on Tuesday that companies must report serious crashes involving driver-assistance and automated-driving systems to authorities within a day of learning about them. Manufacturers and operators will also have to issue broader monthly reports about their vehicles’ safety.

“Gathering data will help instill public confidence that the federal government is closely overseeing the safety of automated vehicles,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Steven Cliff said.

The data will help investigators track patterns in automated-driving crashes, the agency said.

The order applies to simpler driver-assistance features that are already relatively commonplace, as well as more automated systems that are just beginning to gain wider adoption. The technology under scrutiny includes lane-keeping assistance and cruise-control systems that keep a fixed distance behind a leading car, as well as higher-tech systems such as features offered by Tesla that can guide a car along highways with minimal driver input.


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