Washington, D.C.—In comments submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) applauded the work carried out by the authority in its initial Federal Automated Vehicle Policy, calling it “a strong foundation upon which to build,” but cautioning that the key aspects of the policy are not ready to serve as a basis for enforcement. SAFE urged NHTSA to remain flexible and maintain a dialogue with technology developers to improve the policy.
The NHTSA policy outlines potential avenues and guidelines for federal autonomous vehicle (AV) regulation. A number of the recommendations in the document mirrored those put forward in SAFE’s recently released National Strategy for Energy Security. NHTSA’s policy draws a line between the federal government’s responsibilities and those of the states, does not require specific licenses or operators to be present in fully autonomous vehicles once the technology is ready, facilitates information sharing among developers, recommends flexible hiring practices and forming a network of experts to supplement government expertise, and offers non-binding safety recommendations for developers.
In their current form, the guidelines stand to open the door for greater mobility access for individuals with disabilities and older Americans across the country.
“We commend the hard work and innovative approach of NHTSA in developing this policy document,” said SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond. “While our work here has just begun, it must continue rapidly and in earnest. SAFE looks forward to working with government as these regulations are refined.”
“If deployed properly, autonomous vehicles have the potential to not only improve the lives of millions of Americans, but also provide a solution to our reliance on oil in the transportation sector,” Diamond added.
Although the draft policy has been welcomed, SAFE cautioned that the current guidelines are not yet ready to serve as granular-level guidance for AV developers. The policy should be seen as an important milestone in an ongoing conversation between developers, advocates and regulators to accelerate the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.
About Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE)
Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is a nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil in order to bolster national security and strengthen the economy. SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in fuel efficiency, and in the long-term, breaking oil’s stranglehold on the transportation sector through alternatives like natural gas for heavy-duty trucks and plug-in electric vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway, 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
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