On September 12, 2017, the NTSB adopted its report Collision Between a Car Operating With Automated Vehicle Control Systems and a Tractor-Semitrailer Truck Near Williston, Florida, May 7, 2016, NTSB/HAR-17/02. The details of this accident investigation and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at http://www.ntsb.gov.
Among the Safety Recommendations are three new recommendations and two reiterated recommendations issued to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which can be found on pages 43 and 44 of the report. These are Safety Recommendations H-13-030 and H-13-031.
The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number.
Excerpt from the report regarding the reiteration of H-13-030 and H-13-031:
2.8 Connected Vehicle Technology and V2V Requirements
V2V systems transmit warnings and basic safety information (speed, position, heading, brake status, etc.) among vehicles. Intersection crashes, such as occurred in this case, are among the most frequent and fatal of crash types, accounting for 36 percent of all crashes (Choi 2010, p. v). For years, NHTSA has encouraged the development of connected vehicle technology and crash avoidance systems that could improve intersection safety. In a 2014 evaluation report, NHTSA announced plans for deploying V2V technology on heavy vehicles (Harding and others 2014, p. 10).
For V2V systems to function properly, all vehicles on the roads must be equipped with on-board communication capabilities. Also, the communication spectrum frequency for Dedicated Short Range Communication Services must be allocated to intelligent vehicle technologies.70 In 1995, based on the investigation of a heavy truck crash that took place in Menifee, Arkansas, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Communications Commission allocate frequencies that would enhance collision warning systems (NTSB 1995).71 A 2015 NTSB Special Investigation Report includes a summary of the many recommendations concerning crash avoidance systems that the NTSB issued to NHTSA in the years following the Menifee investigation (NTSB 2015, p. 11), including V2V systems.
In 2014, researchers categorized the precrash scenarios involving heavy trucks that could be addressed by V2V systems. Of the 37 scenarios considered, 17 were evaluated. The researchers found that a fully mature V2V system could potentially prevent about 267,000 police-reported crashes involving heavy trucks each year. The annual comprehensive costs of those crashes were estimated at $24.7 billion. Of the 17 scenarios evaluated, “straight crossing path at non-signalized intersection” (like the Williston crash) ranked second in terms of cost, accounting for over 15 percent of the total costs ($3.8 billion) (Toma and others 2014). A more recent simulation study for all types of vehicles estimated that 19–35 percent of straight crossing path intersection crashes could be prevented if both vehicles were equipped with intersection advanced driver assist systems (I-ADAS), a V2V technology designed for intersections (Scanlon, Sherony, and Gabler 2017).
In July 2016, NHTSA released a report addressing V2V for heavy vehicles (Chang 2016). That report summarized research that began in the 1990s and covered the development of systems for integrated truck and retrofit V2V systems, including real-world evaluations (Safety Pilot Model Deployment) and test track experience. The report also addressed the safety benefits provided by V2V systems. The report stated that—
Analysis of the potential safety benefits associated with heavy-vehicle V2V systems has shown good promise based on initial results. In 2013 there were 3,964 people killed and 95,000 people injured in crashes involving at least one large truck. Based on data from police-reported crashes, 70 percent of crashes involving trucks occurred in scenarios that could potentially be addressed by V2V systems.
In early 2017, NHTSA proposed rulemaking on a new FMVSS for V2V communication technology.72 However, NHTSA’s proposed FMVSS 150 does not address V2V applications or requirements for heavy commercial vehicles. These vehicles travel more miles than light vehicles and are over-represented in fatal crashes; consequently, the omission of heavy commercial vehicles from FMVSS 150 is a missed opportunity to significantly improve highway safety. As the NTSB’s response to the proposed rule stated, “Widespread use throughout the vehicle fleet—including all heavy vehicles and motorcycles—is required to capitalize on the full lifesaving benefits of V2V technology” (NTSB 2017).
Fusing V2V communication-based technology with vehicle-resident systems can enhance the safety benefits of vehicle automation systems. Such technology might have affected the outcome of the Williston crash. Increasing implementation of crash avoidance technologies is one of the NTSB’s Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements for 2017–2018. V2V technology could address potential crash situations (that is, intersection and left turn scenarios) that are challenging for current vehicle-resident safety systems (FCW and AEB) and other automated technologies. Moreover, V2V communications will provide a complementary source of information to vehicle-resident systems, improve the reliability and accuracy of data, extend the range of threat detection, and detect crash risks that are outside of a vehicle-resident sensor’s field of observation. The NTSB concludes that connected vehicle technology will be most effective when all vehicles traveling on our roadways are equipped with the technology, and that is particularly important with respect to large, heavy trucks that pose the highest risk of injury to occupants of other vehicles.
Following an investigation into a 2012 collision between a school bus and a heavy truck near Chesterfield, New Jersey, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations H-13-30 and -31 to NHTSA, which read as follows (NTSB 2013):
Develop minimum performance standards for connected vehicle technology for all highway vehicles.
Once minimum performance standards for connected vehicle technology are developed, require this technology to be installed on all newly manufactured highway vehicles.
The status of these two recommendations is “Open—Initial Response Received.”
It has been 4 years since the NTSB issued these recommendations. The Williston crash serves as a reminder of how the installation of V2V technology on heavy trucks could improve the safety of traffic on our nation’s roadways. Because NHTSA’s recent rulemaking on proposed FMVSS 150 does not address these heavy vehicles, the NTSB reiterates Safety Recommendations H-13-30 and -31.