It is widely acknowledged that fully autonomous vehicles (AVs), or cars and trucks that can drive themselves without a human at the controls, are coming soon. In fact, Levels 1 and 2 AVs are already on our roads. Many companies are currently testing 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 fewer than 30% of people report that they would feel comfortable riding in a highly-automated vehicle, and fewer 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.
On May 8, 2019, GHSA and State Farm® hosted an expert panel meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss traffic safety education and law enforcement amid the advent of automated vehicle technology. This white paper summarizes the outcomes of that meeting and provides a number of recommendations for State Highway Safety Offices and the broader safety community. Former senior NHTSA official Dr. Jim Hedlund authored the paper.
The white paper is available here.
Autonomous Vehicle Policy
As both state and federal governments consider autonomous vehicle policy, GHSA is committed to ensuring that 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 U.S. House of Representatives, urging the federal government to work with states to craft AV policy.