The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently investigating General Motors’ Cruise autonomous vehicle division. Reports have been received suggesting that these vehicles may not have exercised proper caution around pedestrians on roadways. The NHTSA has identified incidents involving automated driving system equipped vehicles encroaching on pedestrians, including crosswalks. Such incidents could significantly increase the risk of a vehicle colliding with a pedestrian, potentially leading to severe injuries or even fatalities.
The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received two reports regarding pedestrian injuries caused by Cruise vehicles. In addition, two more incidents were identified from videos posted on public websites. However, the exact number of relevant pedestrian incidents remains unknown. As a result, the office has initiated an official investigation to determine the scope and severity of this potential problem. This investigation aims to identify any causal factors related to the autonomous driving system’s policies and performance around pedestrians, as well as to assess the overall safety risks involved.
Cruise spokesperson Hannah Lindow stated, “Cruise’s safety record surpasses that of comparable human drivers, having covered over 5 million miles. This is particularly significant at a time when pedestrian injuries and deaths are at an all-time high.” Lindow also emphasized the company’s continued cooperation with the NHTSA, stating they regularly communicate and provide requested information.
This investigation comes after General Motors’ Cruise unit agreed to halve its fleet of San Francisco robotaxis in response to ongoing investigations into two crashes involving their vehicles. Following a collision between a Cruise vehicle without a human driver and an emergency vehicle, the state Department of Motor Vehicles requested this reduction in fleet size.
As regulators scrutinize this matter, General Motors’ Cruise division will need to address the concerns surrounding the potential risks associated with their autonomous vehicles’ interactions with pedestrians.