The Department of Transportation has recently rolled out brand new standards for cars with automated driving systems. However, it’s important to note that these standards are simply recommendations for best practices and are not mandatory — at least not yet.
The Trump Administration is focusing their efforts on targeting companies currently developing self-driving cars. They are basing their recommendations on the standards President Obama outlined last year in an attempt to create safer roads. Although still extremely rare, these self-autonomous vehicles are becoming more popular every year.
Known as the Vision for Safety 2.0, there is not much difference between Trump and Obama’s guidelines. The biggest discrepancy is that Obama outlined a 15-point safety assessment to be administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while Trump cut the list down to 12.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao released a statement on September 12 explaining that with the increased production of automated driving systems, or ADS, “we can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans.”
Again, these standards are not mandatory and in fact, the Department of Transportation has yet to receive any Safety Assessments despite the fact that there are a variety of these vehicles being tested in many different states.
Within the past couple of years, self-autonomous cars have become more popular than ever. Since Americans drive on average 25.7 miles daily during the winter and 20.6 miles daily during the summer, more people are choosing this option for ease of use and the flexibility it brings.
But these cars are not without their faults, as The DOT’s announcement on new standards comes at the same time Tesla is facing scrutiny in a federal lawsuit concerning a fatality that happened in one of their self-driving cars.
Back in 2016, a Florida driver died after he got in a traffic accident with a truck driver while merging onto a highway. The driver was using his Tesla vehicle’s Autopilot system when he merged onto a highway and crashed into an 18-wheeler. The ADS failed to recognize the truck and did not stop the car before it crashed. Since this situation was the first of its kind, a federal panel got involved to see if the blame could lie with Tesla, or if it was due to driver negligence.
The National Transportation Safety Board released their findings earlier this month, and they found that Tesla Inc. was responsible partly for the accident. They believe Telsa’s ADS technology caused the driver to not pay attention and use the technology on the wrong kind of road. In their statement, the federal panel explained they even though the Tesla technology worked as described, it is too easy for a driver to use it incorrectly since it is only designed for a limited number of functions.
As of right now, there is no word on how Telsa will be made accountable for the fatality.