NSPE: Autonomous Vehicle Risks Too Great to Ignore

Monday, November 19, 2018

As the push for automated vehicles continues in industry and government, NSPE is once again urging the Department of Transportation to give greater attention to public safety.

In public comments to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, NSPE criticized the latest voluntary guidelines on AVs. “Unfortunately, rather than strengthening public safety and confidence, the voluntary guidelines in this new version create more uncertainty, and potentially put the public at greater risk,” wrote NSPE President Michael Aitken, P.E., F.NSPE.

NSPE’s comments are in response to DOT’s latest version of its policy statement on automation, “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0.”

NSPE’s criticism falls into four areas: (1) the insufficiency of self-certification to ensure public safety and the need for PE involvement, (2) the need to assure consumers that adequate and verified testing is in place, (3) the need for autonomous vehicles be able to operate safely and correctly within existing infrastructure environments, and (4) DOT’s failure to sufficiently address matters of ethics, such as methods for addressing life-and-death decisions.

NSPE’s latest comments are the continuation of the Society’s advocacy for public safety as autonomous vehicle technology quickly advances.

“The risks posed by failing to adequately address public safety protections are too great to ignore. For DOT to achieve its mission to “lead efforts to address potential safety risks and advance the life-saving potential of automation” the Department of Transportation must find the means to address the current lack of public confidence through more deliberate discussions on accountability and liabilities.”