Self-driving cars have been all over the news of late, but until now there has been little to no word on the specifics of their official regulation. But finally, the United States federal government has issued guidelines for the safety of these autonomous vehicles.
The new rules are meant to encourage a standardization of safety measures without over-regulating the burgeoning new industry. This is especially relevant as more and more companies begin to do road tests, like Uber is currently conducting in Pittsburgh.
National Economic Council Director Jeffery Zients, along with U.S. Department of Transportation Anthony Foxx, appeared to announce the new guidelines. Introduced was a “15-point safety checklist. The officials also discussed how current regulations could be adapted to self-driving cars, and called on states to develop rules for autonomous vehicles.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesperson Bryan Thomas said, “We left some areas intentionally vague because we wanted to outline the areas that need to be addressed and leave the rest to innovators.”
Autonomous vehicles could lead to less congestion, pollution, and possibly vehicle-related deaths. There is 60% less traffic at night, and yet 40% of all fatal car crashes occur at night — technological advances in sensory technology for self-driving cars could drastically drive down this number.
President Obama and his administration also spoke up about the need for regulation (but not too much regulation) and the importance of developing these new technologies: “Right now, too many people die on our roads – 35,200 last year alone – with 94 percent of those the result of human error or choice. Automated vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year. And right now, for too many senior citizens and Americans with disabilities, driving isn’t an option. Automated vehicles could change their lives.”