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Self-Driving Car Safety: The NTSB Offers Its Suggestions

by  on  Accident Attorney

The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Christopher Hart, recently delivered a speech in Washington, DC, during which time he offered a number of thoughts and suggestions regarding self-driving automobiles and the overall safety of everyone driving on roadways throughout the country.

One of the primary roles of the NTSB is to investigate accidents that occur amongst all modes of transportation and offer suggestions on preventing such collisions in the future. With respect to autonomous (self-driving) automobiles, Hart has a few recommendations.

Mixing Human Ability With Technology

Hart noted that many collisions that take place on area roadways can be attributed to mistakes made by drivers. That said, self-driving automobiles could help avoid several driver-related issues, including driver distraction, fatigue and driver impairment, among others.

There’s also the idea that some crash avoidance technology could help prevent collisions; however, the creators of this new technology unintentionally paved the way for the occurrence of new issues and possible errors. During his speech, Hart posed the question: “If technology fails, will it fail in a safe way?”

That said, Hart states that when well-trained human beings work in conjunction with properly-working technology, the humans can ultimately prevent potential problems — especially since they are the more adaptive part of the equation.

Automakers and Others Should Work Together

During his speech, Hart used the airline industry as an example to illustrate his point. He noted that airline industry stakeholders voluntarily decided to work with others to create what is known as the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST). CAST is made up of not only the airlines, but also plane manufacturers, air traffic controllers, pilots and regulators, and together, they work to deal with various safety issues.

According to Hart, the NTSB is prepared to assist the auto industry in determining to what degree a similar collaboration could be used with respect to self-driving automobiles, particularly since the aviation industry is federally regulated and states will probably be making their own laws and rules with regard to autonomous cars.

Black Boxes

A final recommendation from Hart relates to the use of black boxes. Specifically, the NTSB wants to see event recorders in automobiles, much like the black boxes that are a part of the technology in airplanes. Such recorders are important, as they can be used to obtain crucial collision information that will help agencies like the NTSB, as well as automakers, come up with solutions that can help prevent such collisions from occurring in the future.

Hart stated that self-driving automobiles could save thousands of lives that are lost each year throughout the U.S. — a “tragic and unacceptable number that has been decreasing for several years but has recently taken a turn in the wrong direction.”

If you have been hurt in an automobile crash or if you have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, contact the skilled Denver auto accident lawyers at Levine Law as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights and options.