The United States federal government issued inaugural guidelines for the safety of self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles. As more companies test the technology, including road tests like Uber is conducting in Pittsburgh, the guidelines are meant to encourage consistent rules without over-regulating the still-developing industry. The new federal guidelines addressed four major areas.
National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients and United States Department of Transportation Anthony Foxx appeared together to announce the guidelines. The two officials introduced a “15-point safety checklist,” discussed how regulations currently in play could apply to self-driving cars, called on states to develop consistent rules for self-driving cars, and left an opening for further regulation in the future.
The guidelines were meant to allow government to regulate the self-driving car industry without suffocating innovators moving the technology forward. 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.”
President Barack Obama announced his administration would issue guidelines in a piece published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. According to President Obama, “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.”
President Obama also spoke of the need for some regulation – but not too much regulation – as the self-driving car industry develops. He said self-driving cars could make roads “less polluted” and “less congested.”