— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is allegedly ignoring recommendations presented by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concerning driverless cars.
According to the Center for Auto Safety, NHTSA has also ignored a petition concerning rulemaking which requires automakers to submit test data for autonomous vehicles.
The Center is concerned about NHTSA's Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing initiative, referred to as the AV TEST.
As safety investigators at the NTSB recommend stronger actions from NHTSA relating to autonomous technology, NHTSA ignores rulemaking and mandated safety laws and replaces them with voluntary initiatives an automaker can choose to follow or ignore without legal consequences.
According to NHTSA, the AV Test initiative will provide the public with information about self-driving testing operations, regulations and state/local laws. But according to the Center, the federal actions will provide the public with little or no relevant safety information.
“In the best case scenario this will be a map identifying only those manufacturers who choose to participate. In the worst case it will be a collage of unreliable data masquerading as proof of safety with a veneer of respectability provided by NHTSA’s implicit endorsement.” - Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety
In October 2018, the Center petitioned NHTSA to begin a rulemaking mandating that all companies testing self-driving technology on public roads submit safety information about their vehicles to the government.
The Center points out how NHTSA is supposed to respond to a petition within four months. But more than 21 months have passed since the petition was filed and federal safety regulators are still mum.
NHTSA is allegedly living on hope that autonomous technology is safe in place of science and engineering which are necessary to protect the public.
According to the Center's Levine, "NHTSA must start by requiring the submission of uniform, useful safety and technical information from everyone testing this technology on public roads. Regulatory agencies are established and funded to protect the public, not merely cheerlead for industry."
Read more about the subject of autonomous vehicles here.