March 14, 2018

Getting Serious About Autonomous Vehicles

Today, the Niskanen Center submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that point to specific Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that will need to be updated to accommodate the deployment of autonomous vehicles on American roadways.

In our remarks, we note a number of specific FMVSSs that require updates in light of the emergence of autonomous vehicles and recommend NHTSA and the Department of Transportation accomplish this task by embracing “clarity through simplicity.” Additionally, we further suggest the Department formally suspend the rulemaking on the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) mandate, reiterating concerns we have described at length in previous comment filings, agency letters, op-eds, and numerous blogs.

As we conclude:

We would like to applaud NHTSA and the Department of Transportation for taking this important and undeniably necessary first step in reevaluating existing regulatory barriers that could pose a problem for the deployment of autonomous vehicles. This is a potentially life-saving technology that holds the promise of making American streets safer, to say nothing of the potential economic gains. In the spirit of this request for comment, the task now before NHTSA and other stakeholders is to continue working through detailed and specific updates to the Code of Federal Regulations, embracing “clarity through simplicity” as a means of addressing the many complexities inherent in this undertaking. Autonomous vehicles are no longer the purview of science fiction; their advent is rapidly approaching. The sooner we can begin clearing the roadblocks to their deployment, the sooner all Americans can benefit from safer streets.

Read the full comments here.