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Consumer Reports: Federal guidelines for self-driving cars are not strong enough

CR Calls For Greater Action by Transportation Department

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Transportation today released long-awaited safety guidance on highly automated vehicles, including fully and partially self-driving cars. In a fact sheet, the department said the new Federal Automated Vehicles Policy “will bring lifesaving technologies to the roads safely while providing innovators the space they need to develop new solutions.”

Consumer Reports, which independently evaluates automated systems at its 327-acre Auto Test Center, has pushed for companies to put consumers’ safety first as they roll out these technologies, and for regulators to set robust standards.

Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports, said, “Consumers need more than just guidelines. This new policy comes with a lot of bark, but not enough bite. While these technologies have the potential to save lives, there must be strong federal standards to protect all drivers. We can’t just leave it to the states to do the hard work of deciding whether to let a self-driving car on public roads.

“These cars won’t be widely accepted until consumers can trust they are safe. We urge the Transportation Department to move quickly to put actual safety standards in place for how these systems are designed and tested, before these vehicles wind up on the road.”

Today’s release by NHTSA includes voluntary guidance for how to assess automated systems so they operate safely, a model state policy developed with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), and an explanation of the regulatory tools the department plans to use to oversee self-driving technologies. It does not include mandatory, enforceable safety standards. Consumer Reports believes that binding rules will be necessary to ensure the safety and consistent performance of automated technologies and that regulators must be prepared to issue them when warranted.



David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, 202-462-6262
Kara Kelber, kara.kelber@consumer.org, 202-462-6262

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports

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