Self-driving cars are more likely to hurt than help public safety because of unsolved technical issues, engineers and safety advocates told the government Friday, countering a push by innovators to speed government approval. Even a trade association for automakers cautioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at a public meeting that a slower, more deliberative approach may be needed than the agency's plan to provide its guidance for deploying the vehicles in just six months. "There are risks to deviating from the government's traditional process of issuing regulations and standards," Paul Scullion, safety manager at the Association of Global Automakers, told a public meeting on self-driving cars hosted by NHTSA.
Issuing new regulations takes an average of eight years, NHTSA has said. "While this process is often time consuming, these procedural safeguards are in place for valid reasons," including thoroughness, Scullion said. NHTSA's administrator, Mark Rosekind, said the agency can't wait because early self-driving technologies are already in cars on the road, including automatic emergency braking. "Everybody asks, 'When are they going to be ready?' I keep saying they're not coming; they are here now," Rosekind said. "Without federal instructions, "people are just going to keep putting stuff out on the road with no guidance on how do we do this the right way," he said. (Google says one of its self-driving cars was at fault in a crash.)