NSC's Hersman Welcomes NHTSA Guidance, Wants More from Automakers

"The new guidance supports further development of this important new technology, which has the potential to change the way we travel and how we deliver goods and services," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new federal guidance for self-driving vehicles is a good step, Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in a Sept. 12 statement, but she also said developers of the technologies need to do more to ensure they are safe. "Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety 2.0" from NHTSA this week is the latest guidance for automated driving systems to industry and states, DOT says.

Hersman is a former chair of NTSB. Her statement says the safety council "is pleased to see that safety continues to have a prominent place in the 12 elements of 'A Vision for Safety,' the next iteration of guidance on the future of automated driving systems, released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The most compelling reason to encourage the rapid deployment of these technologies is to reverse the staggering death toll on our roadways. ADAS systems are already saving lives. Just think of the additional fatalities we could prevent with the deployment of even higher levels of automation. We also are pleased to see that the revised guidelines place a focus on consumer education. However, we have been disappointed that in the year since the first guidelines were released, DOT has yet to receive any Safety Assessments, even though vehicles are being tested in many states. Voluntary guidelines will serve the developers of new technologies to ensure they can move quickly, but they serve public safety best if all the players agree to comply with them. Mandating additional safety measures such as a clear disclosure, robust validation processes prior to deployment and data sharing requirements will now fall to the Congress as both the House and Senate move their bills."

"Today, with voluntary guidelines, we look to the manufacturers who are driving automated technology forward to show leadership and accountability. Ensure that your technology is ready for prime time before deploying it, provide increased transparency through publishing your Safety Self Assessments and commit to improved data and information sharing," she continued. "Finally, we will watch closely NHTSA's commitment to utilize its recall authority to take vehicles off the road if there is any indication of a defect that places the public in harm's way."

This release is voluntary guidance, according to DOT, that:

  • Focuses on SAE International Levels of Automation 3-5 – Automated Driving Systems – Conditional, High, and Full Automation
  • Clarifies the guidance process and that entities do not need to wait to test or deploy their ADSs
  • Revises unnecessary design elements from the safety self-assessment
  • Aligns federal guidance with the latest developments and industry terminology
  • Clarifies federal and state roles going forward

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