Step ‘removes unnecessary barriers to motor vehicles equipped with automated driving systems’
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a final rule to modernize numerous federal motor vehicle safety standards and clarify ambiguities in current occupant protection standards for vehicles equipped with automated driving systems that are designed without traditional manual driver controls.
The rule amends several crashworthiness regulations to clarify safety standards for automated vehicles equipped without manual driver controls. The rule also exempts automated vehicles designed never to carry any human occupants, including human drivers, from crashworthiness standards.
“With more than 90% of serious crashes caused by driver error, it’s vital that we remove unnecessary barriers to technology that could help save lives,” Deputy Administrator James Owens said. “We do not want regulations enacted long before the development of automated technologies to present an unintended and unnecessary barrier to innovation and improved vehicle safety.”
The rule will not change existing occupant protection requirements for traditional vehicles with manual driver controls.
NHTSA’s final rule is one of a series of regulatory actions it has taken to further modernize vehicle standards for new technologies.
The rule is available here.
NHTSA Requests Public Comment on NCAP Modernization
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also issued a request for public comment on proposed upgrades to the new car assessment program.
“Thanks in part to NCAP, new vehicles today are much safer than a generation ago,” Owens said. “Even so, there are still too many fatalities and serious injuries in crashes every year, so it is critical that vehicles keep getting safer in the future, and a modernized NCAP will better enable American families to select vehicles with the safety features they want.”
NCAP is the government’s premier consumer information program for evaluating vehicle safety. The program tests vehicle performance in various crash scenarios and provides an objective rating on a five-star scale to clearly inform consumers of a vehicle’s safety performance.
NHTSA’s immediate planned update to NCAP includes the testing of four additional advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, technologies: lane keeping support, pedestrian automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning and blind spot intervention. These additional four technologies work to mitigate high-frequency and high-risk crash types. In addition, NHTSA requests comment on how best to develop a rating system for ADAS technologies included in NCAP’s crash avoidance program and other potential programmatic changes.
“These upgrades will make NCAP more dynamic,” Owens said. “American car buyers want safety, and NHTSA wants to empower them with comparative safety information about vehicles in the market. This information creates powerful market-based incentives for automakers to invest in advanced safety technologies that will save lives and prevent injuries.”
NHTSA will take comments on the proposal for 60 days.