Thursday, November 10, 2016 | Washington, D.C.
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you all for being here today.
At NHTSA, our mission is to save lives on America’s roadways. For 50 years, we have carried out that mission by writing and enforcing strong regulations to make vehicles safer, fighting against drunk driving, building a national consensus about seatbelt use, and so many other efforts that have saved hundreds of thousands of Americans.
But we have far more work to do. And that work can be measured by some alarming numbers.
In 2015, we lost 35,092 people on our public roads. At NHTSA, we know that is not just a number. Every one of those is a mother or father, a son or daughter, a coworker, a friend. And the problem is getting worse. Last month we announced that roadway fatalities in the first half of this year are up over 10 percent.
It is against this backdrop that the Department of Transportation, under the leadership of Secretary Anthony Foxx, has been working so hard on our efforts to accelerate the safe deployment of automated vehicle technologies.
Because while automated vehicles carry enormous potential to transform mobility and reshape our transportation system, it is their awesome potential to revolutionize roadway safety that has us so motivated.
And there is one more number that helps explain why. That number is 94. That is the percentage of crashes that can be tied back to a human choice or error. That’s a choice to speed or drive drunk, to send a text message from behind the wheel or misjudge the stopping distance.
That 94 percent represents the untold potential of automated vehicle technologies. We envision a future where advanced technologies not only help reduce crashes, but a world with fully self-driving cars that hold the potential to eliminate traffic fatalities altogether.
The Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, which the Department issued on Sept. 20, is the world’s first comprehensive government action to guide the safe and efficient development and deployment of these technologies.
In our view, this Policy is the right tool at the right time. It answers a call from industry, state and local governments, safety and mobility advocates and many others to lay a clear path forward for the safe deployment of automated vehicles and technologies.
But this Policy is not the final word. It is designed to be nimble and flexible, to evolve over time to allow us to stay at the leading edge. To that end, the Policy outlines a series of 23 next steps that will help guide the evolution.
The very first of those next steps are why we are here today. We have submitted the entire Policy for public comment, and we have committed to holding a series of public workshops on the individual components of the Policy.
The Policy is already the product of considerable public input, and its evolution will be based on the feedback we continue to receive. Whether that it is by participating today, or by submitting comments to the docket, the Department will continue to improve this Policy in a manner that reflects the ideas and concerns that we hear from you.
We are at an important moment. We have an industry that is rapidly innovating, and we have a government that is inspired about what this technology means for the future of safety.
We view the best path forward as having the entire community—from industry to safety and mobility advocates to the general public—working together in a committed way with safety at the top of the agenda
Thank you for being here today. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.