Reimagining federal safety standards for cars

 Self-driving vehicles may not cause accidents, but they will surely be involved in them.

Experts believe vehicles that can route themselves, sense their environment and communicate with infrastructure and other cars and trucks will dramatically reduce accidents and an estimated 40,000 annual traffic deaths.

But the U.S. Department of Transportation will require the same level of occupant crash protection from autonomous vehicles as it does from their conventional counterparts.

So safety systems and structural designs must be reimagined for self-driving vehicles that will differ from human-driven cars and trucks.

The traditional way to develop vehicle crashworthiness standards is for the government to conduct research and issue rules.