Self-driving car standards ‘insufficient’ for manufacturers, agency heads say

As states continue to regulate autonomous vehicles in the absence of a comprehensive federal safety framework, they are creating a patchwork of laws that could “harm economic growth, create confusion and ultimately negatively affect safety,” James Owens, the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a Senate hearing Wednesday.

Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia have executive orders or legislation regulating self-driving vehicles on their books. Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said states can lean on NHTSA’s guidelines for autonomous vehicles as they craft their policies. But even the latest revision, released in October 2018, provides “insufficient instructions on how [automated driving system] developers should accomplish the safety goals” of self-driving vehicles, Sumwalt told members of the Senate Commerce Committee.