New Report: Expert Panel Agrees There is Much to Be Done to Keep Drivers Safe in the Automated Vehicle Age

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News Releases

August 6, 2019

CONTACT: Kara Macek, 202-789-0944

Today, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a white paper discussing strategies for delivering safety messages to the public and preparing the criminal justice community to mitigate the ongoing risk of operator behavior as automated vehicles (AVs) take the road. The white paper summarizes the outcomes of a May 8 GHSA/State Farm® interdisciplinary expert panel meeting.

“Automated vehicles hold tremendous promise, but both driver-operated and highly automated vehicles will be sharing the roadways for a long time – maybe forever,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. The expert panel agreed the highway safety community needs to continue to focus on operator behavior, attitudes and culture, which will likely continue to play a leading role in highway safety.

“Surveys show that many drivers do not understand or trust AVs, or appreciate their own operator responsibilities, likely due to the many mixed, confusing, or inaccurate messages about these features,” noted Adkins. “We need to win the public’s trust and prepare them for safe use so that the lifesaving potential of this technology is not delayed.”

The report recommends that State Highway Safety Offices, AV developers, law enforcement and other stakeholders collaborate on a number of steps, including:

  • Develop and deploy consistent, honest safety messages to the public about all forms of automation, from driver assistance features to full self-driving capabilities;
  • Maintain a focus on today’s ongoing traffic safety challenges, such as impaired driving, speeding, failure to buckle up, distracted driving and sharing the road with non-motorized users; and
  • Develop and deploy uniform policy and training for police, first responders and court officials about responding to and investigating AV crashes.

“While AVs will change our lives in many ways, they raise important highway safety issues,” said Ryan Gammelgard, Counsel at State Farm. “This report is a key piece to helping make sure we all work together to ensure the technology works as advertised.”

GHSA will present the paper on Monday, August 26, at its 2019 Annual Meeting, Anaheim, California. The full meeting runs August 25-28. Other featured speakers include Uber, Waymo, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and other leading voices on AV safety.

GHSA’s State Highway Safety Office (SHSO) members, which sit at a unique nexus between traffic enforcement, the media, the public and many other highway safety partners, can play a key role in public education efforts and engagement with the law enforcement community. In fact, GHSA recently announced that it has joined Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, a coalition of industry, nonprofit and academic institutions that bring realistic, factual safety information about AVs to policymakers, the media and the traveling public.

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About GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.