NACTO Fights Autonomous Vehicle Safety Exemptions

Two major automakers have petitioned for the right to test thousands of vehicles without major safety features such as brake pedals and steering wheels.

2 minute read

September 28, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View from inside driver's seat of car with autonomous technology, with yellow rectangles highlighting obstacles in road

Scharfsinn / Autonomous vehicle

Petitions from Ford and General Motors to exempt some vehicles with Automated Driving Systems (ADS) from human-operated safety controls are facing criticism from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), which claims that the automakers are trying to avoid regulations that help ensure road safety. In an article for Streetsblog, Eve Kessler describes the complaints lodged by NACTO in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Automakers for years have tried to get more AVs on American streets even as evidence mounts that the machines aren’t as smart as the companies think they are and pose a danger to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

The companies want to introduce 2,500 vehicles annually that would be used for delivery and ride sharing services and forgo steering wheels, brake pedals, and mirrors—“that is, the controls that lets humans take over if the high-tech machinery goes haywire.” According to NACTO’s letter to federal regulators, “The companies ‘must not only establish that the controls, telltales, and devices aren’t needed for vehicles controlled by an ADS, but also prove that the ADS can successfully respond in a manner at least as safe as a nonexempt vehicle with a human driver would.’”

NACTO is also calling on the NHTSA to develop standards specific to autonomous vehicles “in ways that won’t lead to more road deaths and the destruction of cities,” which NACTO has laid out in their Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism

Friday, September 23, 2022 in Streetsblog USA

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