According to a document made public late last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to “reconsider the necessity and appropriateness of its current safety standards” for self-driving vehicles. The regulator’s 80-page report, dubbed ‘Automated Vehicles 3.0,’ also says that current safety requirements could “constitute an unintended regulatory barrier to innovation.”
Reuters reports that key changes could be made to regulations that aren’t relevant when human drivers are in control. As it stands, automakers need to meet almost 75 auto safety standards in the country, many of which assume that a human driver is controlling the vehicle.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao spoke about the potential changes during a government event. She said that autonomous vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes and deaths on roads throughout the nation.
The NHTSA has yet to specify when altered regulations for self-driving vehicles could come into effect.
Regardless of the timeline, many large car manufacturers and technology companies will be pleased to know that the government is actively trying to safely encourage and support the introduction of driverless vehicles.
In January, General Motors filed a petition for an exemption to the current rules for vehicles without steering wheels and other human controls which it wants to introduce as part of a ride-sharing fleet in 2019. Waymo has also been pushing for regulation changes to suit the development of its autonomous tech.