In Detroit this past January we applauded Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx's announcement when he said the agency is going to do "everything we can to advance safe, smart and sustainable transportation innovations like vehicle automation."
This is a positive first step, and a necessary one given the rapid pace of innovation. But more needs to be done. The federal government needs to move expeditiously to stake a claim in the automated vehicle space.
Why? In the absence of clear federal action, states are running in many different directions trying to regulate this burgeoning technology -- creating a variety of definitions for what constitutes an automated vehicle and an array of rules for their operations. It begs the question…what happens when an automated vehicle meets the design criteria for one state but not another? Would the vehicle be banned from crossing the state line? In an area rife with innovation, a myriad of local and state laws can create a roadblock.
Federal policymakers recognize the public benefit of having nationwide motor vehicle safety standards. Consumers in all fifty states gain from the latest advances automakers have created in vehicle safety. It is a win-win for everyone involved. At NHTSA's public hearing on Friday, some left with the impression that industry groups want the government to 'slow down' on automated vehicles -- when actually, federal leadership in this area is crucial. What’s most crucial is that they lead in the right direction, using a balanced, fact-based and collaborative process.
We welcome true federal leadership from the U.S. DOT to advance a technology that will "revolutionize highway safety." The industry is committed to working with the government to ensure consumers are able to fully realize these benefits as quickly as possible. I look forward to continuing this conversation when I testify on the Hill on Thursday at the NHTSA Oversight hearing. Stay tuned.