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4 Recommendations for Integrating Traditional and Autonomous Vehicles on Public Roads

The Governors Highway Traffic Association published a report on what to anticipate for the inevitable interaction of autonomous vehicles and human drivers.

There will soon come a time when you glance at the car next to you and no one is in the driver’s seat. Barring the remote possibility that a ghost commandeered the vehicle, you have most likely witnessed a self-driving vehicle. The onset of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is well documented, but how will the interaction between AVs and human drivers work? On Feb. 2, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report that addresses the issue.

The report, Autonomous Vehicles Meet Human Drivers: Traffic Safety Issues for States (PDF), specifically covers how to ensure that integrating AVs onto public roads is done in a peaceful manner. It examines the relevant issues and recommends how states can prepare for AVs and put traffic safety at the forefront of all policy decisions.

"The research and media attention given to autonomous vehicles often overlooks the safety implications that a mix of driver-operated and autonomous vehicles will bring," report author Dr. James Hedlund said in a press release. "Unfortunately, ignoring the driver side of the equation may negate many of the expected safety benefits.”

The report breaks down the progress of autonomous vehicles and where they are conducting tests. Included are 4 recommendations for state safety leaders:

  1. Educate the public: States should develop education campaigns on the benefits and risks of AVs, how to operate vehicles with some autonomous features safely, and how to share the road with AVs.
  2. Don’t rush into passing laws: States should wait until model laws and regulations have been developed to encourage a common structure and prevent a patchwork of inconsistent laws and regulations that may delay AV implementation.
  3. Capture the data: States must identify vehicle automation levels in their registration, driver licensing and crash information systems. Police crash reports should be designed to help facilitate comprehensive and accurate data collection.
  4. Engage law enforcement: States should include law enforcement in their planning, as AVs raise many issues for law enforcement, including officer safety, enforcement procedures and vehicle identification.
Ryan McCauley was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine from October 2016 through July 2017, and previously served as the publication's editorial assistant.
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