It is widely acknowledged that fully autonomous vehicles, or cars and trucks that can drive themselves without a human at the controls, are coming soon. In fact, Levels 1 and 2 autonomous vehicles are already on our roads. Many companies are currently testing autonomous vehicles (AVs), and AV programs have been launched across the country by various companies in the technology and transportation industries.
AVs have the potential for tremendous safety benefits, but it will be decades until all vehicles on the road will be autonomous, and perhaps they never will. Until then, autonomous vehicles will need to share the road safely with human drivers.
Further, the public remains skeptical about the safety of autonomous vehicles. Surveys have shown that only about 20% of drivers say they would buy an autonomous car as soon as one is available and fewer than one in three say they would be comfortable riding in one.
This presents a challenge to states, which are responsible for public education, driver licensing, and establishing and enforcing traffic laws. GHSA believes that states should play a prominent role in dealing with the issues that will come from a mix of autonomous and human-driven vehicles on the roads.
In early 2017, GHSA published a Spotlight on Highway Safety Report to help states understand and address issues related to autonomous vehicles. The report provides an overview of existing and upcoming technologies, information on public knowledge and attitudes, and recommendations for states to effectively prepare for autonomous vehicles and ensure that traffic safety is at the forefront of all AV development and policy discussions.
The full report along with infographics is available for download here.
Autonomous Vehicle Policy
As both state and federal governments consider autonomous vehicle policy, GHSA is committed to ensuring safety remains a priority and that states are given a voice in these discussions. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have already enacted laws regarding AVs, and another six have executive orders addressing the technology.
In July 2017, GHSA along with the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) sent a letter to members of the United States House of Representatives urging the federal government to work with states to craft AV policy.