PHOENIX — New data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows there were 130 crashes involving self-driving cars from July 2021 to May 2022.
This marks the first time that the federal government is keeping track of crashes involving autonomous cars whether they have a safety driver in them or not.
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California ranked first on the list with 90 crashes. Arizona, which was one of the first places to allow street testing of autonomous cars, had 12.
But experts say the data NHTSA provides is incomplete.
"There's really not much you can do with the findings," Dr. Andrew Maynard, a self-driving car expert at ASU said. "All they tell you is that some cars crashed but you don't know what percentage of cars crashed, how that compares to other vehicles on the road.”
The reports themselves are limited in information. Locations are mostly redacted and the descriptions of the incidents do not always include who was at fault or even what happened.
But Maynard said the majority of the crashes appear to involve the self-driving car being hit from behind.
"Which says something about how those autonomous vehicles are interacting with other drivers on the road," he said.
Almost all the crashes in Arizona involved Waymo, which began operating a self-driving ride-hail service in 2020 in a part of the East Valley.
Waymo is the only company currently operating that kind of service in the state.
"It's unclear why there are so many incidents with Waymo," Maynard said. "But we do know that they've been very, very active in terms of putting cars on the road."
Waymo sent a statement that reads:
“We see value in having nationally uniform crash reporting during this early stage of the development and deployment of autonomous driving technology, and there's public benefit in NHTSA sharing its findings. We also believe any reporting requirements should be harmonized across all U.S. jurisdictions to limit confusion and potentially enable more meaningful comparisons, and NHTSA’s effort is a step toward achieving that goal.”
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