NSPE Urges NHTSA to Revise Autonomous Vehicles Guidelines to Protect Public Safety

Monday, November 6, 2017

NSPE is calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to revise its autonomous vehicles guidance to ensure an impartial third-party places the public health, safety, and welfare above all other considerations. On November 6, NSPE President Tom Roberts, P.E., F.NSPE, submitted a formal comment to NHTSA in response to the release of the new voluntary guidance on automated driving systems, Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety.

NSPE recommends a requirement for third-party certification of autonomous vehicles and technologies by someone in the decision chain who has a duty that puts public safety first and overrides competitive pressures, i.e. a professional engineer. These third parties should be legally obligated to place the public health, safety, and welfare above all other considerations. NSPE further recommends that NHTSA develop and set performance criteria for AV technology. These performance standards can be monitored, evaluated, and/or certified through simulation testing to assist in the development of benchmarking criteria.

In the public comment, Roberts states that “the risks posed by failing to adequately address public safety protections are too great to ignore. For NHTSA to achieve its mission to ‘Save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes, through education, research, safety standards, and enforcement activity,’ these proposed recommendations must be incorporated into the next version, slated for release in 2018.”