A new decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will allow Google’s self-driving cars to be considered a ‘driver’. With the blessings of NHTSA, Google’s cars can lack steering wheels, brake pedals, car seats and human drivers. Passengers in Google cars will not even require a driver’s license. For those who are unaware, NHTSA is the main regulatory agency for vehicles sold in the U.S.
Google has told NHTSA it is concerned human drivers taking control of its self-driving cars would be more likely to cause auto accidents.
Several major auto manufacturers are developing self-driving cars, and NHTSA’s new rule could put these high tech vehicles on our roads much faster. Some auto manufacturers are making claims that self-driving vehicles will have enormous benefits for driver safety. Volvo recently stated its self-driving cars would be “death proof”. Volvo’s comments bring up an important point. Are self-driving cars good or bad for driver safety?
Are Cars Without Drivers Safe?
Self-driving cars could be a great asset in the fight against distracted and impaired driving, but critics claim the technology still needs more testing. We recently wrote a blog about how Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit dedicated to consumer product safety, argued self-driving cars still need more testing before being released on our nation’s roads and highways.
From 2014 to 2015, Google’s self-driving cars had 10 near-misses when its own software almost caused a collision. These are statistics released by Google, not some third party.
Fortunately, Consumer Watchdog and other critics might get their wish for more testing. NHTSA’s decision could help self-driving car and software manufacturers carry out testing in more places around the country. It’s important to ensure this technology is safe for use before releasing it to consumers.