NHTSA Human Driver Controls

Human controls for automated cars are no longer required in the United States.

March 10, 2022, | Washington, DC – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation today announced a first-of-its-kind final rule to safeguard the safety of occupants in automated vehicles. This rule changes the occupant protection Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to account for cars that are equipped with automated driving technologies and do not have the typical manual controls associated with a human driver.

“Through the 2020s, an important part of USDOT’s safety mission will be to ensure safety standards keep pace with the development of automated driving and driver assistance systems,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This new rule is an important step, establishing robust safety standards for ADS-equipped vehicles.”

“As the driver changes from a person to a machine in ADS-equipped vehicles, the need to keep the humans safe remains the same and must be integrated from the beginning,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator. “With this rule, we ensure that manufacturers put safety first.”

NHTSA Human Driver Controls. Human controls for automated cars are no longer required in the United States.
NHTSA Human Driver Controls

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Despite their novel designs, vehicles incorporating ADS technology must continue to provide the same high levels of occupant protection as contemporary passenger vehicles, according to the final rule.

This rule is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ongoing efforts to protect public safety as vehicle automation advances. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is actively involved in monitoring and overseeing the safe testing and deployment of these vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses safety in a variety of areas, including data collecting and analysis, research, human factors, rulemaking, and enforcement.

Last summer, NHTSA issued a Standing General Order requiring crash and incident reporting for vehicles equipped with ADS or certain advanced driver-assistance systems. This reporting will help NHTSA investigators quickly identify defect trends that could emerge in these automated systems

In addition, NHTSA initiated rulemaking last year to set safety standards for automatic emergency braking, a driver-assistance technology that can help avoid crashes with other road users, including pedestrians.

The rule is available here.

In conjunction with the final rule, NHTSA is updating its webpage dedicated to building public understanding about automated driving systems. The page features an interactive infographic that explains the various levels of automation in a more user-friendly way.

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