The GHSA Believes States Need To Be Better Prepared For Autonomous Cars

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【Summary】In a lengthy report put out by the GHSA, the administration warns states of the pitfalls of having autonomous cars sharing the road with conventional vehicles.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Feb 12, 2017 11:15 AM PT
The GHSA Believes States Need To Be Better Prepared For Autonomous Cars

Autonomous cars are coming, and they're coming quickly. Various automakers and companies are testing self-driving vehicles around the United States and they're improving. As previously reported, the number of disengagement incidents has gone down by an average of 40 percent across all 11 companies that are testing in California. And while that's a reassuring sign that self-driving cars are getting better with each day of testing, a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) warns states of the pitfalls of having self-driving cars on the same roads as conventional vehicles. 

Who Will Regulate Autonomous Vehicles?

At the moment, individual states are in charge of regulating the safety of automobiles on the road. And the GHSA believes that states will continue to be responsible for everyone's safety when self-driving cars hit the road. The administration wants states to take the lead by educating the public on autonomous vehicles. By presenting the public with information on both the benefits and the risks of self-driving cars, drivers of conventional vehicles will know how to properly share the road, even when it comes to bicycles

According to the GHSA, self-driving vehicles bring two large challenges to states – the development and management of a surface transportation system, as well as the management of having driver-operated and self-driving cars on the road. How should states deal with these challenges? Well, the GHSA claims the first step is for states to establish testing requirements for autonomous cars. Not only should states have requirements, but they should also monitor testing performance. 

While the states will be in charge of monitoring the performance and testing of autonomous cars, the GHSA believes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should regulate the certification of autonomous vehicles. The NHTSA needs, according to the report, to certify that each self-driving car meets certain standards. 

Level 3 to 5 autonomous vehicles, which do not need a driver behind the wheel, need to be registered and titled differently than other vehicles, claims the GHSA. States can do this by coding the vehicles as Highly Automated Vehicles (HAVs) and adding a new data field to accommodate for the cars. 

While higher-level autonomous vehicles do not require any human intervention, Level 2 to 4 self-driving cars, require some intervention from a human driver. And those vehicles, as the GHSA points out should be required to have at least one driver in the car to have been trained in the vehicle's operation.

There are many other problems that autonomous vehicles bring with them, which include laws on how Level 4 and 5 operate, how law enforcement deals with self-driving cars, how officers conduct investigations when autonomous cars are involved in an accident, nationwide data systems on self-driving cars, liability and insurance policies behind these vehicles, as well as safety and vehicle inspections. 

States Should Be One Step Ahead

To stay ahead of the rush of self-driving technology that is swamping the roads, the GHSA gives states five pieces of advice: be informed, be flexible, don't rush into passing or establishing regulations, understand a state's role when it comes to autonomous cars, and be a player in your state. 

Clearly, the GHSA wants states to work out the majority of the kinks when it comes to autonomous cars being unleashed to do as they please on the road. And that's the best way forward. Each state acts differently from one another, making a unified plan across the United States something that just wouldn't work. By following the GHSA's tips, states can ensure that autonomous cars are safely given a chance to drive on the same roads as conventional vehicles without falling behind.

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