Policy ForumTechnology Development

Autonomous vehicles: No driver…no regulation?

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Science  06 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 36-37
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2715

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According to the latest statistics from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,461 people were killed on the nation's roads in 2016 (1). Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology has the potential to reduce this number substantially. However, proper safeguards must be established immediately by federal regulators to govern the testing and deployment of AVs and ensure public safety. We must not undermine current safety standards for the sake of AV development. Moreover, reconsidering current requirements may be necessary to take advantage of this revolution. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents in a recent CARAVAN public opinion poll expressed concern about sharing the road with driverless cars (2). If commonsense protections are not in place to govern AV development, and problems occur, the public will reject AVs, and the opportunity this new technology presents to improve public safety will be lost.