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Safety Advocates Decry 'Undue Haste' In Putting Self-Driving Cars On Road


WASHINGTON (July 14, 2016) — A coalition of auto safety advocates has written President Barack Obama condemning the speed at which the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are approving the use of self-driving cars.

“It is time to stop your administration’s undue haste to get autonomous vehicle technology on the road,” stated the advocates led by Joan Claybrook, former NHTSA administrator and president emeritus of Public Citizen, in the letter dated July 13.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark R. Rosekind are scheduled to issue guidance documents by the end of July to accelerate deployment of autonomous vehicles, the advocates said. They urged him to order them to stop.

The recent fatal crash of a self-driving Tesla Model S in Florida underscores the folly of approving the use of autonomous vehicle technology without enforceable safety rules in place, the advocates said.

“The administration should not succumb to Silicon Valley hype about the miracles of autonomous vehicle technology,” the advocates said. “Autonomous vehicle technologies hold the promise of improving safety. But that promise can only be realized after thorough testing and a public rulemaking process that results in enforceable standards.”

Besides Ms. Claybrook, signatories of the letter included Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety; Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety; and John M. Simpson, privacy project director for Consumer Watchdog.