Securing America's Future Energy

Fatal Self-Driving Vehicle Incident in Arizona Underscores Need for National Effort to Implement Advanced Safety Technology

Contact: Bridget Bartol | 202.461.2361 |

Washington, D.C.— In response to a reported fatality involving a self-driving vehicle in Arizona, Mark Rosenker, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and head of SAFE’s Commission on Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Safety said:

“As an organization we are saddened by this terrible tragedy. Last night’s accident is a sobering reminder of both the current dangers of our road safety system, as well as the promise and current limitations of autonomous vehicle technology. In context, 6,000 pedestrians were killed last year in roadway accidents by human drivers, and as fully autonomous vehicles see deployment on public roads, we stand by our belief that driverless cars will save lives, and our recommendation that companies deploy automated vehicles once confident that they are as safe or safer than the average human driver.”

SAFE President and CEO Robbie Diamond added, “Roadway fatalities killed 40,000 people last year—all avenues to address this public safety crisis should be pursued, and the responsible deployment of autonomous vehicle technology must be part of that strategy. As federal investigations shed light on the factors that led to this incident, policymakers must work towards a clear national framework to enable the prudent testing and development of this technology in a manner that will save lives as soon as possible.”

In January 2017, the Commission on Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Safety—a committed group of former public officials and safety experts bringing decades of experience to safe, expeditious AV deployment—released a series of best-practice recommendations to foster increased industry-regulator collaboration that will ultimately improve public confidence in AVs.

These recommendations include:

  • The Commission recommends that AV providers move to on-road testing and deployment only once confident that the vehicle’s performance is at least as safe as the average human driver, accounting for backup drivers, speed restrictions, geofencing and other safety measures.
  • The Commission encourages AV providers to create safety milestones for AV development. The Commission further encourages public disclosure of achieved milestones and accompanying validation.
  • The Commission encourages developers to deploy redundant layers of technology to increase safety beyond any minimum required standard.
  • The Commission encourages developers to clearly define and effectively communicate autonomous features, including their limitations.
  • The Commission encourages AV providers to formally collaborate through a technical data consortium to accelerate AV learning and safety through shared, anonymized information.
  • The Commission recommends that industry formulate objective, practical, quantitative metrics for measuring AV safety.

The Commission recommends that any future framework for regulating AVs rest on a modern foundation reflecting the advanced software-driven nature of vehicle automation.

 About Securing America’s Future Energy

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous 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 (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.


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