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DoT and NHTSA Release New Policy For Autonomous Vehicle Technology

“Self-driving” cars are vehicles that are able to operate without direct input from a driver, controlling steering, acceleration, and braking so the driver does not have to constantly monitor the road. Even for younger generations, the thought of autonomously operated vehicles seemed like the stuff of science fiction just 10 years ago. Yet today new vehicles are being made with park assist, lane monitoring, and other “self driving” features. Yesterday, the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a new policy concerning vehicle automation, as well as plans for future research on related issues, such as car accident avoidance and driver safety.

Many of the features in these vehicles are still experimental, and play on safety features that are already in place, such as stability control. A good amount of states across America have already passed legislation expressly permitting operation of self-driving vehicles under certain circumstances, but what will happen in the time ahead remains unclear. “Whether we’re talking about automated features in cars today or fully automated vehicles in the future,” said the NHTSA Secretary, “our top priority is to ensure these vehicles – and their occupants – are safe.”

The NHTSA’s new policy will include:
1. Explanations for the multitudinous and often ambiguous areas of vehicle innovation and automation, which offer significant potential for the reduction of highway and roadway crashes.
2. A Summary of all research being conducted or planned by the NHTSA to guarantee that all safety issues related to vehicle automation are addressed and explored.
3. For test purposes, states that have already authorized operation of autonomous vehicles, recommendations will be provided to keep drivers as safe as possible.

One of the NHTSA’s administrators was quick to state that the agency is “encouraged by the new automated vehicle technologies being developed and implemented today,” but added that it is crucial to “ensure that vehicle safety is considered in the development of these advances.” With the inaction of today’s policy, the DoT and NHTSA will provide states with assistance so that future legislation will not inadvertently impact current vehicle technology and will ensure that all testing of self-driving cars will be conducted safely.

In the past, the NHTSA’s decisions to commit to extensive research in a specific area has led to innovation, safety, and an increase in the overall quality of technology. Technology is invading every imaginable sector, and automobile manufacturing is no different. With the rapidity of this advancement, there is a great need for efficacious research to ensure that each new feature is safe. Our lawyers value our clients, and want to see every one of them live happy and healthy lives. If your quality of life has been affected by a car accident injury, we will do everything we can to help you get the compensation you deserve.(NHTSA)