FMCSA Moves Forward with Driverless TrucksJune 26, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced their plans to fast-track driverless trucks by removing federal regulations that could be amended, revised, or eliminated altogether. The agencies feel that many of these regulations are unnecessary, and they are getting in the way of introducing driverless trucks onto highways across the country. The FMCSA and NHTSA have asked for comments from the public about the best way to proceed with regulating self-driving technology in large trucks.
The FMCSA developed their Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to establish a minimum set of standards that commercial truck drivers must follow when traveling from one state to another. The regulations cover a wide range of areas, including:
- Commercial driver’s license requirements
- Hours of service
- Substance abuse and testing
- Minimum insurance requirements
- Inspection and maintenance requirements
- Hazardous materials
- Parts and accessories that help ensure safe operation
The FMCSA asked the public for comments about which of these regulations could be changed or eliminated to fast-track the introduction of automated driving systems (ADS) that are equipped with self-driving trucks, while ensuring that safety is not compromised in any way. The FMCSA is considering changing or eliminating some of its own regulations to account for the major differences between human drivers and ADS.
Regulations Must Reflect Advancing Technology
According to an FMCSA Administrator, we understand that these technologies are still in the development phase, but it is extremely important to ensure that the federal rules and regulations keep up with advancing technology. We need to adapt our regulations as automated driving systems in large trucks and buses become more common. In addition to seeking comments from the public about regulation changes, the NHTSA wants to hear from the public about how they can identify specific regulatory obstacles that get in the way of ADS vehicles being allowed on roads and highways across the country. The agency is also looking for feedback about ways to ensure that commercial truck drivers follow the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including self-driving vehicles that do not have standard controls, such as steering wheels and brake pedals.
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