After Prompting, DMV Will Post Robot Car Crash Reports Online

The Department of Motor Vehicles announced today that it will now post all robot car crash reports on its website and send out a news alert when a new one is added.

Consumer Watchdog (Capitol Watchdog's sponsor) has been pushing the  DMV for more transparency and accountability in the way it regulates testing of autonomous vehicles on the state's highways. Today's action is an important step toward making key information more readily available. It used to be that you had to file a Public Records Act request to get a robot car crash report. 

While I welcome the added transparency and commend DMV’s latest action, further steps are still necessary. Consumer Watchdog has petitioned the DMV for a rulemaking process that would amend robot car testing regulations to require police to investigate crashes and to require copies of any video or technical data gathered by the robot vehicle related to the crash be provided to the department. Under the current regulations, the Department relies completely on the testing company’s account of what happened.  With the public’s safety at stake, it’s imperative that a neutral third party investigates any accident involving a robot car. 

Read Consumer Watchdog’s Sept. 24 petition for the rulemaking here.

Under the testing regulations, manufacturers must provide the DMV with a report of the crash within 10 business days of the incident. The DMV has now posted all nine crash reports it has received since companies were required to file them in September 2014. Eight of the crashes involved Google cars. One involved a Delphi vehicle. Google was involved in eight additional crashes before reporting was required, for a total of 16 accidents, since it began testing robot cars.

The official accident reports can be found on the DMV’s website here.

Currently there are ten companies approved by the DMV to test robot cars on California’s highways. They are: Volkswagen Group of America, Mercedes Benz, Google, Delphi Automotive, Tesla Motors, Bosch, Nissan, Cruise Automation, BMW and Honda.

Our highways are being used as corporate laboratories for robot car makers. It’s essential that the public have readily available as many details as possible about what happened when something goes wrong.

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