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Speeches and Presentations

Automated Driving Systems Public Workshop

Heidi King, Acting Administrator, NHTSA

Friday, October 20, 2017 | Washington, DC

Automated Driving Systems Public Workshop
Acting Administrator Heidi King
U.S. Department of Transportation
Friday, October 20, 2017
Washington, DC


Thank you, Nat, for the kind introduction, and thank you to you - and to all of the NHTSA team - for all of the work that has gone into developing A Vision for Safety.    

Good morning to all the stakeholders who have joined us today. Welcome to the Headquarters of the U.S. Department of Transportation. On behalf of Secretary Elaine L. Chao and everyone at DOT and NHTSA, I want to thank you for engaging in the process today.  

I also want to thank each of you for giving us feedback throughout the development of 1.0 and 2.0 – your feedback is very important to us. Your time and comments today will help to strengthen the recently released voluntary Automated Driving Systems guidance.

As I’m sure you are aware, together, we’ve embarked on a truly remarkable path. Automated Driving Systems offer the potential to revolutionize transportation.

From delivering roads that are safer, reducing traffic, reducing fuel costs, and to delivering new mobility options to seniors and people with disabilities, automated vehicles look to transform transportation. 

At DOT and NHTSA, of course, our central focus is always on safety. NHTSA’s mission remains to help Americans drive, ride and walk safely.

We know that 94 percent of all serious crashes are due to human factors. By addressing those factors, we can reduce collisions.  By addressing those factors, we will be addressing the resulting deaths, and injuries.

We lost 37,461 people to motor vehicle collisions in 2016 – friends, neighbors, colleagues. Fatalities spiked by more than 5 percent in 2016, and that followed an 8 percent increase the previous year.

The ability to reverse those negative trends and dramatically improve safety is why we are focusing our work here today on Automated Driving Systems.

To fulfill the great promise of Automated Driving Systems, we must give our full consideration to safety in the testing and development of these vehicles.

  • That means rigor.
  • It means being transparent and learning from one another.
  • It means broadening public understanding, not just of these vehicles’ potential benefits, but of how safety is being addressed in their development and their testing.

Public trust is essential to the advancement of automated technology. The 2.0 Guidance and the Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment are tools to build public trust: 

  • to encourage entities to discuss safety; 
  • to discuss the importance of ensuring occupant and non-occupant safety; 
  • to protect the public and increase the public’s safety.

Our collaborative efforts with all stakeholders will move Automated Driving Systems in the right direction. Most importantly, it is advancing these technologies safely. Just last week, WAYMO became the first entity to describe how its addressing the safety elements contained in the voluntary guidance.  

By encouraging public disclosure of the Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment, we look to support the efforts of other entities who wish to release information about how they are addressing safety.  I understand -- We all understand this is a new and innovative approach. But a technology this new and this dynamic requires an approach that is flexible, adaptive, and open.

Because it is a new and different approach, NHTSA stands ready to help entities implement the voluntary guidance.  By bringing stakeholders today, we can share and discuss different views and approach and together knock down barriers to advancing Automated Driving Systems together.

In addition to today’s workshop, we will have a public listening session regarding the entire 2.0 document on November 6 here at headquarters. We hope you will again participate and bring even more voices to the discussion.

Thank you for your time, and for working with us in this effort. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and considerations regarding the Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment today.