Posted on November 1st, 2016

The Road of the Future: How NHTSA’s Automated Vehicle Guidelines Will Ensure a Safe Path to Automated Vehicles


“The automobile industry is on the cusp of a technological transformation that holds promise to catalyze an unprecedented advance in safety on U.S. roads and highways. The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago.”

Secretary Anthony R. Foxx
U.S. Department of Transportation

When we think of “automated cars,” we think of a future world where technology helps reduce crashes  makes driver error a thing of the past. Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made a major step in making this future a reality by releasing its long-awaited guidelines for automated vehicles.

The goal: create industry best practices and provide guidance to state and federal policy leaders, automotive manufacturers and technology companies when it comes to the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The government’s 112-page directive  outlines a recommended safety assessment for any new technology, considers new powers to allow administrators to limit the deployment of experimental vehicles, and includes a model for state self-driving car policies aimed at developing a cohesive set of national regulations.

The 15-point safety assessment covers the following topic areas:

  • Data Recording and Sharing
  • Privacy
  • System Safety
  • Vehicle Cybersecurity
  • Human Machine Interface
  • Crashworthiness
  • Consumer Education and Training
  • Registration and Certification
  • Post-Crash Behavior
  • Federal, State and Local Laws
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Operational Design Domain
  • Object and Event Detection and Response
  • Fall Back (Minimal Risk Condition)
  • Validation Methods

Creating policies for how these automated vehicle technologies can be used and tested, and even what we call them, is critical to keeping our roads safe. This policy gives carmakers, developers, and states the green light to innovate while keeping safety at the forefront.

MyCarDoesWhat applauds NHTSA for providing a much-needed path forward. Creating policies for these technologies is critical to keeping our roads safe. At the same time, it’s important for drivers to understand what the technologies do and how to use them correctly. For now, you are still your car’s best safety feature.