Feds are investigating Waymo driverless cars after reports of crashes, traffic violations

Waymo is under investigation by federal safety regulators for reported driverless car crashes and traffic violations, the National Highway Safety Administration announced this week.

The agency opened a preliminary evaluation into the autonomous driving company owned by Alphabet Inc. after receiving reports of nearly two dozen incidents where a Waymo vehicle was the sole vehicle operating during a collision or the driving system allegedly violated traffic laws.

Of the reported incidents, 17 involved crashes or fires, according to the notice posted on Tuesday. No injuries were reported in connection to the incidents.

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Waymo collisions with parked vehicles, gates, and more

According to the notice, NHTSA is investigating Waymo’s 5th-generation vehicles.

Reports include collisions with stationary and semi-stationary objects including gates and chains, collisions with parked vehicles, and "instances in which the (automated driving system) appeared to disobey traffic safety control devices."

The notice goes on to say Waymo submitted incident reports involving crashes to NHTSA, while other incidents were collected via publicly available reports, like vehicles driving in opposing lanes with nearby oncoming traffic or entering construction zones.

"Based on initial evaluation of these incidents, NHTSA understands that the Waymo ADS was either engaged throughout the incident or, in certain cases when supervised by an in-vehicle test driver, the ADS disengaged in the moments just before an incident occurred," the agency wrote in the notice.

'We are proud of our performance'

According to data released by Waymo in December 2023, Waymo vehicles avoid injury-causing collisions better than human drivers. According to its research, which was peer-reviewed by experts outside the company, Waymo vehicles were involved in 0.4 collisions with injuries per million miles driven, compared with humans who were involved in 2.78 injury-causing crashes per million miles.

In a statement reported by the Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network, a Waymo spokesperson said the company is proud of its safety record.

“At Waymo, we currently serve over 50,000 weekly trips for our riders in some of the most challenging and complex environments,” the statement said. “We are proud of our performance and safety record over tens of millions of autonomous miles driven, as well as our demonstrated commitment to safety transparency. NHTSA plays a very important role in road safety, and we will continue to work with them as part of our mission to become the world’s most trusted driver.”

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Self-driving car company Waymo under investigation after crashes