WASHINGTON (AP) — The new head of the government’s highway safety agency says it will intensify attempts to realize the hazards posed by automatic motor vehicle engineering so it can choose what restrictions may be required to defend drivers, travellers and pedestrians.

In an job interview Wednesday, Steven Cliff, who was confirmed very last thirty day period as head of the National Highway Targeted traffic Safety Administration, said the agency is examining crash info lately described by automakers and tech corporations.

Any new polices NHTSA could impose would fill what critics say is an urgent have to have to address the escalating use of driver-assistance units on U.S. streets. The units have been linked to crashes involving deaths and really serious injuries, however they also have great opportunity to avert crashes. There are no federal regulations that right address both self-driving autos or people with partly automated driver-aid devices these as Tesla’s Autopilot.

Just before developing any new federal criteria, Cliff said, NHTSA would like to superior fully grasp how the new technological innovation should really perform.

Cliff spoke Wednesday to The Connected Press in his initially on-the-file job interview due to the fact currently being verified by the Senate.

He explained that when he very first joined the agency in February 2021, he was stunned to uncover that NHTSA had no details on automated automobile crashes. As a outcome, Cliff claimed, he challenged the agency to call for these reporting. Very last month, NHTSA introduced knowledge from July 2021 to May, concluding that automatic autos were concerned in just about 400 crashes.

Cliff cautioned that when he believes federal requirements are wanted to regulate driver assisted know-how, he desires to prevent speeding to embrace new regulations that could possibly perhaps close up compromising basic safety.

“Any time we put a regulation on the publications, we have to determine not only what normal that technologies requires to be held to, but we will need to have an aim way to measure the general performance of the process to make sure that it truly complies with the regulation,” he said from his business at the Division of Transportation’s headquarters in Washington.

The company, Cliff said, is also functioning on effectiveness criteria for automated unexpected emergency braking, which it options to call for on all new passenger cars and significant vehicles. The braking systems, which can detect and quit for pedestrians, other vehicles and hurdles, display good potential to assistance stem growing targeted visitors deaths in the U.S., he stated.

NHTSA, he claimed, will established metrics for how the braking techniques detect objects to make certain that the programs reply appropriately.

“That’s element of any of the criteria that we set in put,” he explained.

Cliff declined to discuss any facts of polices that may possibly be forthcoming.

“It’s important for us to consider the details that arrives from people incidents, greater fully grasp it in an engineering context,” he said. “I think it’s important to go speedily but not so quickly that we’re receiving it erroneous.”

Of the nearly 400 crashes that were being documented by makers, Teslas ended up involved in a lot more than all other automakers blended. But Cliff noted that Tesla has driver-assist technology functioning on virtually all of its roughly 830,000 vehicles on U.S. streets, which can make neat comparisons to other automakers hard. The organization also delivers approximately instantaneous wi-fi reporting of crashes, so it gets info faster than other automakers.

Since Cliff’s arrival, the company has stepped up enforcement initiatives aimed at Tesla, including a press for a dozen remembers due to the fact the commence of 2021. The company is investigating why Teslas functioning on Autopilot seem to be to crash into emergency autos parked along freeways. And it has acquired far more than 750 consumer complaints involving Teslas braking unexpectedly for no evident explanation.

At the identical time, Cliff additional, Tesla has been cooperative with NHTSA since his arrival at the agency.

“I imagine we work nicely with them,” he stated, “and when we have determined that there are dangers, they’ve taken motion, and that’s suitable.”

Cliff, 52, whose background is in chemistry and air air pollution regulation with very little auto protection practical experience, normally takes about the agency at a essential time. NHTSA has believed that just about 43,000 individuals have been killed on U.S. roadways final yr, the highest these determine in 16 many years.

Protection advocates say NHTSA has turn into more aggressive in regulating automakers because Cliff’s arrival from the California Air Resources Board, the state’s air pollution regulator. Cliff, who 1st joined the California board in 2008 as an air air pollution professional, rose to turn out to be its deputy government officer. A long time before, he gained a bachelor’s diploma and doctorate in chemistry from the College of California, San Diego.

He concedes that he has had to turn into a speedy analyze on car safety. But he mentioned that evaluating the science and the facts is similar to the function he did in California.

In December, Cliff explained to the Senate Commerce Committee that he would operate to undertake polices these types of as individuals urging seat belt use, and would carry out mandates beneath the new federal infrastructure regulation to lessen drunken driving.

He reported he thinks that automatic emergency braking in new vehicles must assist reduce fatalities and that the agency will choose a “safe units approach” to stem the fatalities. Those approaches could contain roadway layout and reductions in speed restrictions.

In addition, he claimed, NHTSA is seeking to understand why Black Americans die in crashes at a increased level than other teams.

“In some circumstances,” Cliff mentioned, “a great deal of that has to do with infrastructure, but also the cars themselves. So bettering the new auto fleet is part of the alternative, but it is also significant that we educate drivers.”


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