The National Academy of Sciences recently reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the federal agency responsible for traffic safety) that it should add technical expertise and refine its investigative techniques. The NAS also indicated to the NHTSA that it should push automakers to install recording devices to improve its data on the cause of car accidents, much like airplanes use a “black box” to record plane accidents.
The NAS conducted the review after the NHTSA had difficulty determining the cause the much-publicized Toyota accidents involving unintended acceleration. The NHTSA investigation eventually cited problems with floor mats and pedals, and Toyota subsequently recalled 8 million cars with pedal and floor mat defects. The NAS did not question the NHTSA’s findings, but the report noted that the NHTSA needed help in order to answer questions regarding whether electronics in the car were at fault. In fact, the NHTSA needed to go to the NASA in order to discover information regarding the electronic aspects of the vehicle.
According to InvestorPlace, new vehicles can use up to 70 distinct electronic systems with 200 million lines of code. At this point, cars can include technology that practically allows the car to drive itself. The electronic throttle control at question in the Toyota recall is by comparison relatively simple and ubiquitous, meaning the NHTSA should have been able to test the electronic functioning relatively easily.
The NHTSA agreed with much of the report and has already implemented some changes. The federal agency, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, also wants to require black boxes on newly manufactured cars.
In a Car Accident?
Improvements to crash investigation will benefit the public by providing high safety standards in motor vehicles, as well as giving information to leading experts on the type of behavior that leads to accidents.
Anybody who has been in a car accident should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss his or her case and explore options for recovery.