TO THE EDITOR:
"Feds move to consider cars with no steering wheels, brake pedals" (autonews.com, March 15) describes a big step for transportation innovation in the U.S. The Department of Transportation has opened its regulatory process to include considering comments from safety advocates, engineers, technicians and drivers.
There are two official requests for public comments on two separate petitions for testing advanced levels of autonomous vehicles on our public roads.
This first test — yes, test — for considering public comments on petitions is a bold move because, typically, this type of process ends with hundreds of snide remarks and unsubstantiated claims. Troubling, when you consider all these posts become part of the federal archives and don't just wither away into cyberspace.
But this change is not out of thin air. Last October, NHTSA had great results from its request for public comments on updating the government's New Car Assessment Program for rating crashworthiness of vehicles. There were only 72 submissions, and about 25 of those built off each other. The process closed with focused information and proposed solutions with references to points in existing law for NHTSA to consider in its rule-making.
This is an important opportunity to become officially part of this serious process, and everyone who has a car in this race needs to simply abide by the unwritten rules, be smart and respectful of all the other drivers and, most importantly, keep it clean and stay focused.
DAVID DeVEAU, Owner, DeVco Design & Development, Westfield, Mass. The writer is an independent transportation safety advocate. DeVco Design & Development is an engineering consultancy.