Products Liability Law Daily NHTSA finalizes ‘historic’ rule to modernize driverless vehicle safety standards
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Friday, January 15, 2021

NHTSA finalizes ‘historic’ rule to modernize driverless vehicle safety standards

By WK Editorial Staff

According to the agency, the final rule removes "unnecessary barriers" to motor vehicles equipped with automated driving systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule to modernize a number of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and to clarify ambiguities in current occupant protection standards for vehicles equipped with automated driving systems that are designed without traditional manual driver controls. According to an agency release, the rule amends several crashworthiness regulations to clarify safety standards for automated vehicles equipped without manual driver controls. In addition, the rule exempts automated vehicles designed never to carry any human occupants, including human drivers, from crashworthiness standards (NHTSA Press Release, January 14, 2021).

NHTSA’s final rule is one of a series of regulatory actions that the agency has taken to further modernize vehicle standards for new technologies. As stated in NHTSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking issued last year [see Products Liability Law Daily’s March 18, 2020 analysis], the rule will not change existing occupant protection requirements for traditional vehicles with manual driver controls.

"With more than 90 percent of serious crashes caused by driver error, it’s vital that we remove unnecessary barriers to technology that could help save lives," NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens commented. "We do not want regulations enacted long before the development of automated technologies to present an unintended and unnecessary barrier to innovation and improved vehicle safety."

MainStory: TopStory MotorVehiclesNews

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