TO THE EDITOR:
Revelations about autonomous vehicles stopping in travel lanes to pick up/drop off passengers or failing to make way for emergency responders, as highlighted in "San Francisco feeling left out of conversation about AVs" (autonews.com, July 31), shine a spotlight on alarming gaps in AV safety regulation and a lack of transparency about their operation and performance. Such stories underscore long-voiced safety concerns about unproven and largely unregulated AV technology that have been exposed through National Transportation Safety Board investigations as well as disturbing crash data released by NHTSA.
Avoiding foreseeable problems requires commonsense safeguards. Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation have failed to advance minimum performance standards despite growing evidence of the dangers posed by vehicles with automated driving technology — and persisting public skepticism about their safety. Federal safety regulators have instead relied on ineffective voluntary programs that fail to protect the public.
San Francisco offers an early glimpse into the likely treacherous course of AV technology in the absence of a thorough and deliberate process that addresses known dangers and unintended consequences posed by wide-scale deployment. Thorough data collection and transparency combined with standards that establish a baseline for safety are essential. Policymakers should heed the experience in San Francisco, and other known failures and crashes across the country, to comprehensively address AV safety through regulation and oversight.
CATHY CHASE, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Falls Church, Va.