WASHINGTON, DC –Today, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation filed official comments with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding a proposed policy and guidance surrounding automated vehicles or self-driving cars.Released in September, the long-awaited guidance from the Agency was a first step in attempting to regulate this burgeoning technology. The guidance included a model policy for states to better understand how such vehicles are tested and used on the road as well as a recommended 15-point safety assessment for manufacturers to follow to ensure autonomous vehicles are safely designed,developed, tested and deployed.
Generally,the guidance was accepted as a positive first step, but very quickly opposing sides materialized with differing views on non-mandatory guidelines versus regulations, the scope of the federal government and effect on preemption for those states that have already begun to address the vehicles in state law, and general concerns over how to ensure safety within a technology that is so rapidly evolving.
Representing the voice of the millions of street motorcyclists in the U.S., the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) thoroughly reviewed the proposed policies as well as attended Agency workshops, congressional hearings and other forums to better understand how this technology and these policies would consider and ensure the safety of motorcyclists on the road. The organization’s thoughts are captured in extensive comments filed with the Agency, which can be viewed by clicking on the below link: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NHTSA-2016-0090-0001.
In short, the comments indicate that while the MRF recognizes the potential that these vehicles may offer in regards to improving road safety, other sections made clear that, “any guidelines, procedures, or regulations promulgated, are considerate and inclusive of all road users, specifically motorcyclists.” The comments centered around four main points including implementing an enforceable requirement for automakers to have robust testing when it comes to motorcycle recognition and responsiveness,ensuring that safeguards surrounding cyber security have strong standards,thoughts and considerations regarding liability in crashes with self-driving vehicles, and general concerns about the scope and enforceability of the policy as well as the need to define a clear role between states and the federal government.
With over 10 million registered motorcycles on the nation’s roads, the MRF insists that this group is an important stakeholder that is often overlooked when it comes to driverless vehicles. The MRF is working to ensure that bikers across the nation not be overlooked; they recently nominated a well-known motorcycle rights’ activist to serve on a newly established Council at the Department of Transportation that will help advise the Secretary of Transportation on this issue. There has been no indication yet that the nomination has been accepted,but the MRF insists that it will remain vigilant in ensuring bikers have a seat at the table when it comes to automated vehicles.