The State of Self-Driving Car Laws Across the U.S.

The State of Self-Driving Car Laws Across the U.S.

Two fatalities involving autonomous vehicles (AVs) have raised the prominence of safety concerns within AV testing. Many states have considered or enacted regulations on AV testing, while availability of data collected on testing remains difficult to access.

Key findings

"Safety drivers have played an important role in autonomous vehicle development. They receive special training to assume control when on board computers encounter a situation that the vehicle cannot navigate by itself. California requires companies that test self-driving cars in the state to report the number of miles driven as well as the number of disengagements, or times a human driver taken control from the autonomous system." Recent stability in disengagements at a low percentage per miles driven "may have prompted California Department of Transportation to relax its rules on having a safety driver in the front seat."

Between 2014 and 2016, "20 companies had collectively logged over 1 million miles of autonomous driving. Growth in miles driven slowed after September 2016 as more states passed laws to attract self-driving car testing. Around the same time, average disengagements per mile leveled off at 5 per 1,000 vehicle miles, or one disengagement every 200 miles driven."

"The two vehicle fatalities in March emphasize the human costs of testing technology. Fully realized, replacing human drivers with artificial intelligence could drastically reduce motor vehicle deaths, a toll that claimed over 40,000 lives in the U.S. in 2016... National safety guidelines and state laws should incorporate the lessons learned from real world testing. Preventing all future accidents may prove impossible, but they can provide feedback on what policies work best and which do not."

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