TRB Special Report 308: The Safety Challenge and Promise of Automotive Electronics: Insights from Unintended Acceleration examines how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) regulatory, research, and defect investigation programs can be strengthened to meet the safety assurance and oversight challenges arising from the expanding functionality and use of automotive electronics. The report gives particular attention to NHTSA's response to consumer complaints of vehicles accelerating unintentionally and to concerns that faulty electronic systems may have been to blame.
The committee that produced the report found that the increasingly capable and complex electronics systems being added to automobiles present many opportunities for making driving safer but also present new demands for ensuring their safe performance. These safety assurance demands pertain both to the automotive industry's development and deployment of electronics systems and to NHTSA's safety oversight role. With regard to the latter, the committee recommends that NHTSA give explicit consideration to the oversight challenges arising from automotive electronics and that the agency develop and articulate a long-term strategy for meeting these challenges.