NHTSA finalizes occupant safety rule for automated vehicles

New rule updates occupant protection safety standards to account for vehicles equipped with automated driving systems

March 22, 2022 / 1 minute read
automated vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a final rule to ensure safety of occupants in automated vehicles.

According to a news release from NHTSA, the new rule updates the occupant protection Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to account for vehicles that are equipped with automated driving systems (ADS).

“As the driver changes from a person to a machine in ADS-equipped vehicles, the need to keep the humans safe remains the same and must be integrated from the beginning,” Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator, said in a statement. “With this rule, we ensure that manufacturers put safety first.”

NHTSA says before this rule, occupant protection standards were written for common, traditional vehicle features, including steering wheels and other manual controls. The rule updates the standards to clarify what is required of manufacturers when applying the standards to ADS-equipped vehicles without traditional manual controls. The final rule clarifies that, despite their innovative designs, vehicles with ADS technology must continue to provide the same high levels of occupant protection as current passenger vehicles. 

NHTSA says the rule is part of the agency's efforts to ensure the public’s safety as vehicle automation evolves. NHTSA’s approach to safety in advanced vehicle technologies includes data collection and analysis, research, human factors, rulemaking, and enforcement. 

NHTSA proposed modernizing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for automated driving systems two years ago.

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SOURCE: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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