Department of Transportation’s new guidance on automated vehicles falls far short, says CR
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Transportation yesterday released the fourth edition of voluntary guidelines for the development of automated vehicles and their roll-out to the market.
According to Consumer Reports, this document — primarily a summary of federal government activities related to automation — makes clear that the Department continues to fail to take the steps necessary to accelerate the development of safe self-driving cars. This lack of action is happening even as the limitations of today’s technology have become more apparent, and after the National Transportation Safety Board recently found that weak government oversight was a contributing factor to the March 2018 death of a pedestrian hit by an Uber test vehicle in Tempe, Arizona.
“Secretary Chao says that safety is the top priority. If that’s the case, then the DOT’s principles for self-driving cars should be reflected in binding standards, not voluntary guidelines,” said Ethan Douglas, senior policy analyst for cars and product safety at Consumer Reports. “People will only choose self-driving cars in great numbers if they know they are safe, and it is the DOT’s role to ensure that they are. There’s also so much that the Department can and should do today to save lives, including requiring proven safety features to be standard on all new vehicles — like Europe is doing — and setting safety rules for active driver-assist systems like Tesla’s Autopilot.
“The DOT is supposed to ensure that the U.S. has the safest transportation system in the world, but it continues to put this mission second, behind helping industry rush automated vehicles. That’s not leadership, and it is going to erode people’s trust in the technology,” Douglas added. “True leadership would be setting a bar for companies to reach through innovation. After all, there’s a reason why today’s new cars are safer than ever: technologies brought to market thanks to federal safety standards and five-star safety ratings.”
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