Once relegated to futuristic visions and sci-fi movies, driverless cars are now a reality. And with that reality comes concern and controversy. While cars operated by computers can be safer and more efficient than those driven by humans, accidents are likely inevitable as the technology becomes more prevalent. So who’s held responsible when no one is sitting behind the wheel? The owner? The programmer? The company behind the navigation technology? Like the technology itself, the answers are still evolving.
The responsibility for shaping public policy around driverless cars initially lies with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Subsequently, the regulation of driverless cars will be adapted by policymakers and administrators in every state’s department of transportation.
States have begun to create legislation concerning driverless cars and to assist, NHSTA has developed a set of guidelines to follow. These recommendations include*:
Automakers anticipate being able to market driverless cars to the public by 2020. If you’re interested in helping create and refine public policy around this technology, an online public policy degree program can help you prepare for a career in public policy and administration.
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*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Automated Vehicles for Safety / Automated Driving Systems: A Vision of Safety / Best Practices for State Legislatures, on the internet at https://www.nhtsa.gov/technology-innovation/automated-vehicles.