Letter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) re: Proposed Rules for Driverless Autonomous Vehicles
Written Comments submitted to the DMV on the Proposed Rules for Driverless Autonomous Vehicle (April 25, 2017 Public Hearing)
I am writing to express my humble opinion on the new proposed rules for fully autonomous vehicles without drivers. When drafting the rules that will govern fully autonomous vehicles in the State of California, I would ask that you take the following statement into account: a child born today will never drive.
As a parent, this is a blessing and something that I am extremely thankful for as distracted driving is a national epidemic. In 2015, more than 35,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Of these, 26% lead to deaths that were caused by distracted driving.
This is a number that unfortunately I expect will grow as individuals in the United States look at their devices over 8 billion times a day. Americans have become falsely accustomed to driving while checking their smartphones.
The only way to solve this epidemic and ensure that our roads are safe is to openly embrace fully autonomous vehicles without drivers. To achieve this goal, the DMV should remove the burdens currently put on the autonomous vehicle industry of requiring disengagement reporting. The current disengagement reports have caused misleading public narratives in the media.
Misleading narratives have a dramatic negative effect on the timeline for the adoption of fully autonomous vehicles. The general public follows the headlines, and for the most part, do not read the full report. These misleading narratives generate headlines that only increase web traffic, leading to greater advertising revenue.
This vicious cycle will only continue if the DMV requires disengagement reporting. If the DMV removes the disengagement reporting requirement, the autonomous vehicle industry would be more inclined to expand testing of fully autonomous vehicles in the State of California.
As an alternative to disengagement reporting, the DMV may want to consider ways to have autonomous vehicle companies report things the vehicles did well or safely. For example, when an autonomous vehicle came to a stop in order to avoid a collision, this could be reported.
This approach would send a much more powerful message to the public and it is inline with the DMV’s mission to serve the public by providing quality.
The DMV has to encourage the testing of fully autonomous vehicles in the State of California. Over 38 million California residents are counting on the DMV to make our roads safer.
If the DMV takes the proper action with the new proposed rules for fully autonomous vehicles without drivers, our roads will be safer. With fully autonomous vehicles, parents of children born today will never receive the life changing call that their child has been involved in a deadly car accident.
In the future, this call will never come as autonomous vehicles are taking us towards zero deaths.
I sincerely hope that the DMV will support and openly embrace fully autonomous vehicles. Our children are counting on you to do the right thing.