i3 | December 20, 2017

Exciting Road Ahead for Self-Driving Cars

Izzy Santa

Americans overwhelmingly are excited about the  benefits of self-driving vehicles (SDVs) and driver- assist technology. Last year, a CTA research study found that 70 percent of U.S. consumers want to test a self-driving car. Almost all those who used advanced driving features such as  parking-assist technology, navigation assistance technology or  car maintenance alerts were satisfied. Of those drivers who did  not use advanced driving features, half were looking forward  to upgrading and taking the technology for a spin. The study  also found that four out of five American consumers recognize  the potential benefits of SDV technology, including:

Fewer accidents and  injuries caused by aggressive driving or DUIs

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 35,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2015, and traffic fatalities went up by 10.4 percent in the first half of 2016. Ninety-four percent of U.S. traffic accidents are caused by human error.  With self-driving technology, human error will no longer be an issue, making our roads much safer for our families and us.

More savings on  car-related expenses 

The costs of insurance, repairs, licensing and even the time spent in traffic or finding parking can add up. The time and gas spent commuting just in urban areas comes to $160 billion each year.  A Ruderman Family Foundation report expects that self-driving cars will produce $1.3 trillion in savings from increased productivity and decreased gas expenses and accidents. SDVs could also lead insurance companies to lower premiums by  40 percent or more, according to multinational insurance agency Aon.

More mobility options  for people with disabilities

Self-driving cars will open up more possibilities for the 20 to 30 million Americans of driving age whose physical disabilities have prevented them from driving, as well as the 16 million Americans over the age of 65 who have little or no access to public transportation. Self-driving technology will allow millions of our peers to explore and participate in community life in ways that simply weren’t possible before, as well as join the workforce and better support the local, state and national economies.  

Our policymakers also recognize the benefits of self-driving technology  for Americans. In September, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3388, also known as the SELF DRIVE Act of 2017, to deal with the patchwork of rules and regulations acting as a speed bump to testing self-driving cars’ full potential.  

 Thanks to the leadership of Chairmen Greg Walden (R-OR) and Bob Latta (R-OH), Ranking Members Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI),  we now have a clearer and more efficient regulatory environment in which to safely develop, test and deploy  innovative self-driving technology.

The legislation also provides more direction on the proper roles of state and  federal governments in regulating selfdriving cars and improves NHTSA’s  ability to adapt federal safety standards  to self-driving technology. These  much-needed changes signal that our  policymakers are ready to give American consumers what they want: a green  light for self-driving vehicle technology. 

At CTA, we are encouraged by NHTSA’s updates to the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy (FAVP). The administration’s new state legislative recommendations encourage a uniform,  “technology-neutral” approach to selfdriving cars in which SDVs are treated as regular vehicles by states. The process is a win for both companies and consumers by respecting the sensitivity of proprietary IP information while ensuring timely access to the self-driving technology that Americans want.

There is an exciting road ahead for self-driving cars and self-driving technology. Luckily in this regulatory environment, it won’t be long before we can enjoy the benefits of SDVs.

November/December 2017 i3 Cover Issue

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