Automobile manufacturers around the world are at a historic turning point for automotive travel. Engineers predict that affordable innovative technology will change the motor vehicle and driver relationships, improving highway safety, increasing environmental benefits, expanding mobility , and creating new economic opportunities for jobs and investment. One of the most controversial technologies being debated is the use of autonomous vehicles.

Self-driving vehicles are those in which the driver has no direct input to control the steering, acceleration, and braking. Several states, including Nevada, California and Florida have already approved legislation that permits the operation of self-driving vehicles under certain conditions. These experimental vehicles are at the highest end of a wide range of automation that begins with some safety features already in vehicles, such as electronic stability control.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced their policies concerning autonomous vehicles, including its plans to research related safety issues and provide recommendations for states related to the testing, licensing, and regulation of “autonomous” or “self-driving” vehicles. Their policies will provide assistance to ensure that their legislation does not inadvertently impact current vehicle technology and that the testing of self-driving vehicles will be conducted safely.

NHTSA’s policy addresses:

  • An explanation of the many areas of vehicle innovation and types of automation that offer significant potential for enormous reductions in highway crashes and deaths;
  • A summary of the research NHTSA has planned or has begun to help ensure that all safety issues related to vehicle automation are explored and addressed; and
  • Recommendations to states that have authorized operation of self-driving vehicles, for test purposes, on how best to ensure safe operation as these new concepts are being tested on highways.

According to NHTSA Administrator, David Strickland, “We’re encouraged by the new automated vehicle technologies being developed and implemented today, but want to ensure that motor vehicle safety is considered in the development of these advances. As additional states consider similar legislation, our recommendations provide lawmakers with the tools they need to encourage the safe development and implementation of automated vehicle technology.”

Get The Full NHTSA Preliminary Statement Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles Here.

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