Yesterday, the Niskanen Center submitted comments to the Department of Transportation, offering our general support for the recently updated guidance on autonomous vehicles. The past few weeks have seen a lot of positive steps taken to expedite the advent of this potentially life-saving technology.

Legislative efforts such as the SELF DRIVE Act and the AV START Act serve as excellent complements to the guidance document released by the Department, and signal a broad bipartisan agreement on how best to speed the testing and deployment of this technology onto American roads. All of these indicate a willingness on the part of both legislators and regulators to clear the roadblocks ahead and thus far, all signs are positive.

The Niskanen Center supports all of these efforts and especially applauds the Department of Transportation’s redrafted guidance on autonomous vehicles.

From the executive summary:

The advent of autonomous vehicles holds the potential to help save lives on American roads. Expediting the deployment of this technology should be a priority for safety regulators, but onerous regulatory barriers could act as an impediment to a safer, more autonomous transportation future. The Niskanen Center is therefore pleased to see that the Department of Transportation has tailored its new guidance document for autonomous vehicles to reflect an awareness of those realities. We wish to offer our congratulations and support on the approach outlined by the guidance.

Although there are areas for improvement, we are wholly encouraged by the provisions contained in this guidance. Moving forward, we recommend that the Agency should: (1) continue to reiterate the value of voluntary, non-binding, industry-led standards for autonomous vehicle research, development, and testing; and (2) embrace the principles of The Framework for Global Electronic Commerce already reaffirmed by the Department of Commerce.

Read the full comments here.