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 less than 30% of people report that they would feel comfortable riding in a highly-automated vehicle, and less than a quarter would buy one as soon as it became available.
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.
GHSA's latest report on autonomous vehicle (AV) technology outlines issues that automated driving systems may present to states, and discusses how law enforcement and State Highway Safety Offices should prepare for them. Funded by State Farm®, the report finds that most autonomous vehicles for the foreseeable future will share driving responsibility with humans, and are likely do so for many decades. Moreover, there will continue to be crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving AVs, especially during this time in which they share the road with vehicles driven by humans.
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.