Self-driving vehicles have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives a year in the U.S. A strong public policy approach ideally will promote openness and innovation and be technology-neutral and inclusive.
Policymakers need to prioritize the policy initiatives that will have the greatest impact in advancing self-driving technology and speed up what has been a very slow and arduous process if we are not to fall behind other countries.
Clear delineation of federal, state and local roles and responsibilities will provide clarity for the emerging market and updated Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) will allow new approaches to safety and design to emerge.
Temporary exemptions from outdated FMVSS can provide an intermediate respite on a short-term basis until a longer-term solution is adopted. These exemptions must not be extended to the point that the process becomes de-facto pre-market approval.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the sole regulatory authority of vehicle performance standards. State and local governments must not be allowed to advance mission-creep policies that conflict with federal standards.
Thoughtful public policy and clear and consistent regulations will allow this technology to move from concept to reality.