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NHTSA calls for review of autonomous vehicle regulations

Traffic accident deaths in Oklahoma and around the country have been on the rise, but a growing number of lawmakers and road safety advocacy groups believe that autonomous vehicles may one day solve the problem. The goal of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Road to Zero campaign, which was launched in October 2016, is to eliminate road deaths entirely during the next three decades, and both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Congress have taken action to ease the regulatory burden on companies involved in the development of self-driving cars.

The NHTSA said in a report released on Oct. 27 that it plans to tackle regulations that could delay the introduction of vehicles that have the potential to save thousands of lives each year, and the agency says that it is particularly interested in addressing rules that could stymie the development of fully autonomous vehicles. Most automobile safety regulations were written based on the assumption that human drivers would be involved, and companies like Google, Ford and General Motors say that these rules make it very difficult to get cars with no driver controls at all approved for use on public roads.

Proposals for deregulating autonomous vehicle development have also been advanced in the Senate and House of Representatives. Both measures would allow NHTSA to exempt autonomous vehicle makers from many of the 75 auto safety standards currently in effect, and the Senate plan calls for permanent rules for self-driving cars to be drafted and implemented within a decade.

While self-driving cars may still be years away, many modern vehicles already feature semi-autonomous safety systems that constantly monitor road conditions and can reveal how drivers behaved before crashing. The data captured by these systems can give accident investigators a better understanding of what transpired in the moments before a collision, and it can also be used by personal injury attorneys to establish driver negligence in car accident lawsuits.

Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "U.S. DOT, National Safety Council Launch 'Road to Zero' Coalition to End Roadway Fatalities", Oct. 3, 2016

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