WASHINGTON D.C. – According to an auto safety news report posted on detroitnews.com, the federal government published its final rules governing certain autonomous driving vehicles. The new rules permit certain self-driving vehicle manufacturers to skip several federal crash safety requirements in self-driving vehicles that do not carry passengers.
The revised rules are the first significant changes to existing federal safety standards regarding driverless technology innovations. Currently, there are no fully autonomous motor vehicles available for purchase. Transportation industry experts predict the market share for self-driving autos and trucks to grow in the next ten years and beyond.
A rule change permits manufacturers more freedom to design autonomous driving vehicles without pedals and steering wheels, which are meant for human drivers. The rule change will not save self-driving car manufacturers much money. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates saving to consumers and automakers could reach approximately $5.8 billion in 2050.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens states that driver errors cause 90% or more accidents, and removing barriers to driverless technology will help save lives. Mr. Owens said that the NHTSA does not want regulations that create a barrier to innovation and enhanced vehicle safety.
Rule changes such as these will help speed up the deployment of autonomous driving vehicles. The NHTSA asserted no rule changes related to vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility, warning signals, and alternative seating configurations. All of which will require additional research.
Traffic safety advocates warn that autonomous driving vehicles require tailor-made regulations intended to protect consumers.
The executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Jason Levine, stated that the long-term safety consequences of regulation changes could not be determined at this time. Mr. Levine believes that the NHTSA’s demand of permitting the accelerated deployment of self-driving motor vehicles is not a traffic safety-driven approach. According to Mr. Levine, the NHTSA should focus on identifying the unique characteristics of autonomous technology and consumer safety.
NHTSA has endured a lot of public criticism from traffic safety advocates due to the agency’s implementation of “voluntary” guidelines for manufacturers of self-driving motor vehicles. These guidelines are essential to understanding how a vehicle performs in crash scenarios. Right now, these safety tests are only recommended by federal regulators. Safety advocates argue that these safety tests should be mandatory, and the results should be available to the public, which would increase the public’s trust in autonomous driving vehicles.
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