October 19, 2016–Public interest group Consumer Watchdog said today it asked the California Department of Motor Vehicles to prohibit the use of autonomous vehicles operating without a human driver capable of controlling the vehicle until the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration enacts “enforceable standards covering the safety performance of robot cars.” According to the group, the California DMV has proposed rules that would require auto manufacturers to submit a voluntary federal safety checklist before testing or deploying autonomous vehicles, but it said that NHTSA’s proposed checklist contains no enforceable standards.
“The checklist is inadequate to protect public safety on the roads, and . . . DMV must therefore prohibit driverless cars until enforceable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are in place,” the group said.
“The proposed DMV rules would let robot cars without a driver on our roads if the manufacturer simply answers Yes, No or Maybe to each point on NHTSA’s 15-point safety checklist,” Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, said in a statement. “Absolutely no safety performance standards are required,” Ms. Balber said. “We need more than a safety checklist written on toilet paper before we are sure driverless vehicles are safe to operate on public roads in California. That’s why we’re calling on the DMV to hold until federal regulators enact enforceable safety standards for driverless cars.” – John Curran, firstname.lastname@example.org