Posted on February 2nd, 2017

Automated Vehicles Meet Human Drivers

It is almost impossible to keep up with daily advances in the field of motor vehicle automation. So when a new excellent summary is published, composed of facts and not marketing hype, along with well thought-out suggestions, it is worthy of a look.

What makes the Autonomous Vehicles Meet Human Drivers: Traffic Safety Issues for States report by noted vehicle safety expert Dr. James Hedlund, authored for the Governors Highway Safety Association, so important is that it was both collaborative and designed to be useful – a potential additional roadmap for the future.

And what does the report remind us?

Partially automated and fully automated vehicles are still very much in the testing phase, and none are yet offered for sale to the public. They probably won’t be for a while. According to the most aggressive timelines it will probably be 5 to 10 years before they are offered to the first buyers – expected to be fleet operators who will run these in limited “geo-fenced” areas.

While that may seem like a long time (or short time – depending on your point of view), there is lots to do for state DOTs, DMVs and law enforcement to do to get ready. This report will help them prepare.

One key perspective is that guidance is needed from national organizations to advance model state laws, regulations and policies. This may seem counter-intuitive. Stronger guidance on the national level is not always encouraged by local jurisdictions. However, in this instance, it seems that states, who might not have the expertise to develop these on their own and the auto and tech industry, who don’t want to build individual vehicles for individual states to comply with their individual rules – all appear to have a common goal of preventing a patchwork approach to this national issue.

Another key perspective is that traffic safety issues need to be documented as these technologies are rolled out. One sure way to document risks is to share non-identifiable usage and crash data. Only if that occurs can we understand whether these technologies are delivering on their promise to eliminate the needless death of more than 100 people a day currently lost on our roadways.

And education is recognized as a critical component of the introduction of these vehicles. Drivers of partially automated vehicles and fully automated vehicles will need to know the limits and extent of their driving responsibilities. And those who never intend to acquire a vehicle that has a higher level of automation, as well as the rest of the motorcycling, bicycling and walking public, will need to know how to share the road safely with these automated vehicles.

That is one of the reasons we created MyCarDoesWhat. It gives visitors an introduction to the technologies that help comprise partially and fully automated vehicles.

Because now, and for the foreseeable future,  no matter how advanced our vehicle automation systems become, the key ingredient will still be, as it always has, an active, engaged driver.

Read more about Autonomous Vehicles Meet Human Drivers: Traffic Safety Issues for States at