Initial findings from NTSB on recent fatal Arizona accident reveal collision occurred despite a human operator in the vehicle


Washington (May 25, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today queried major automakers and technology companies that are developing autonomous vehicles (AVs) on public roads about safety protocols for test-driving the vehicles. Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its initial findings from its investigation of the February 2018 accident in Tempe, Arizona involving an Uber test vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian even though a driver was present in the car.


“This latest fatality has raised many questions about the processes companies have in place to guard public safety when testing this type of technology on public roads,” write Senators Markey and Blumenthal in their letters. “Although we understand that Uber and several other AV companies have temporarily halted vehicle testing, we would like to know more about your company’s protocols for test-driving AVs on public roads and how they will be adjusted in light of the recent tragedy.”


A copy of the Senators’ letters can be found HERE.


Letters were sent to BMW of North America, Daimler Trucks North America, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Honda North America, Hyundai Motor America, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive North America, Kia Motors America, Mazda North American Operations, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mercedes-Benz Vans USA, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Nissan North America, Subaru of North America, Tesla, Toyota Motor North America, Volkswagen Group of America, Volvo Car USA, Amazon, Apple, Intel Corporation, Lyft, NVIDIA Corporation, Uber Technologies, and Waymo.


In their letter, Senators Markey and Blumenthal request responses to questions that include:

·       Where is your company testing AVs and how did it determine it was safe to operate on public roads?

·       How many employees are required to be in the AV during testing, and how have protocols regarding the number of drivers changed over time?

·       Have there been any incidents related to pedestrians or safety concerns and have drivers had to suddenly regain control of the AV?

·       What protocols are in place to ensure drivers can regain control of an AV while in autonomous mode?

·       How does your company select drivers for its AVs and what minimum requirements are needed to become a driver?

·       Do you plan to change safety protocol for testing AVs on public roads in lights of the Arizona fatality?

·       What data on safety performance does your company record from your AVs and is this information available to federal and state safety authorities?