The NCSL Blog


By Ben Hursch

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued updated guidance today for the safe development of highly autonomous vehicles (HAVs).

Autonomous carThe policy update is made up of four parts:

  • Vehicle performance guidelines.
  • Model state policy.
  • NHTSA’s current regulatory tools.
  • Possible new regulatory actions NHTSA believes could be helpful in ensuring the safe deployment of HAVs.

Most important for states, NHTSA is clear in its guidance that states retain their traditional responsibilities for vehicle licensing and registration, traffic laws and enforcement, and motor vehicle insurance and liability regimes. The model state policy included in NHTSA’s policy release is in no way binding on states wishing to take action regarding use of HAVs in their state.

For potential HAV manufacturers, the policy includes a set of 15 best practices regarding the safe pre-deployment design as well as development and testing of HAV’s prior to commercial sale or operation on public roads.

Separately, NHTSA issued an enforcement bulletin regarding its authority to issue recalls on such automated technology. The notice has a particular focus on semi-autonomous technologies where the driver can allow the car to take over certain aspects, which NHTSA believes could result in increases in distracted driving.

See NCSL's research on autonomous vehicle legislation.

For any further questions or concerns regarding NHTSA’s release, please contact NCSL staff Ben Husch, 202-624-7779.

Ben Husch is the director of NCSL's Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee.

Email Ben

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.