Two Tesla vehicles were involved in fatal crashes in early January. It is still unclear whether the vehicles were using Autopilot (Tesla’s self-driving features) but these incidents did highlight a major problem with the popular electric car companies post-accident data collection methods.
For the last decade, most vehicles on the road in the United States have been outfitted with event data-recorders. These “black boxes” allows investigators to have unfettered access to the data the vehicle collected before, during and after a crash. Data points like acceleration, braking time, airbag deployment and more can all easily be downloaded off of the vehicle.
Unfortunately, the data collected in the seconds leading up to the crash is usually only accessible by the automaker. This is a major issue because if the data points to any manufacturing issues, the automake could easily hide that information before turning the data over.
Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for Navigant Research in Detroit spoke with the Claims Journal about this very problem. “We should not ever have to rely on the manufacturer to translate this sort of data, because they are potentially liable for product defects and they have an inherent conflict of interest,” said Abuelsamid.
This isn’t a new issue. In 2016 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called on the Transportation Department to define exactly what data needs to be collected following a fatal Tesla crash. Unfortunately, those guidelines have yet to come through.
The need for this data is only becoming more intense as self-driving technology makes its way onto the roadways. Are these systems operating the way manufacturers claim? The only way to know for sure is to give investigators unfettered access to vehicle data.
The Claims Journal pointed out that the sheer volume of inquirers the NTSB has opened into this subject is evidence of how interested the agency is to find out how all this new driving technology is performing out in the wild.
Regulations are coming, it’s just a matter of how long it will take before they are enacted. In the meantime, make sure your auto-insurance policy is up to date! To learn more about what policies are available for you visit www.tgsinsurance.com.