Report finds human operators will share wheel with AVs for years to come

Human operators will still exert significant control and will be able to change their vehicle’s AV level dynamically in foreseeable future

August 16, 2018
human operator in AV

The Governors Highway Safety Association’s (GHSA) new report, Preparing for Automated Vehicles: Traffic Safety Issues for States, funded by State Farm, analyzes market trends and finds that most autonomous vehicles (AVs) for the foreseeable future will share driving responsibilities with humans, and are likely to do so for many decades.

Human operators will still exert significant control and will be able to change their vehicle’s AV level dynamically, just as drivers today can activate or deactivate cruise control. The report was authored by Dr. Jim Hedlund, a former senior official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Survey research aggregated for the report shows that many consumers are skeptical about AVs. The report notes that autonomous technology short of full automation presents a number of important behavioral safety issues related to how operators and passengers use the technology. Inattention is of particular concern when operators expected to monitor driving may not do so as diligently as they should, and even an operator who does not need to monitor the road for long periods of time may not be able to quickly re-engage if distracted. Unlicensed operators also pose potential harm, as they may be able to activate an AV but be prevented from taking over control of the vehicle if needed.

The report recommends that states:

  • Consider laws requiring or assuming that a licensed driver is present in each vehicle, especially for AVs in which a licensed driver may be called upon to take control;
  • Update traffic laws to accommodate AVs and help to prepare state driver licensing agencies to identify and register AVs; and
  • Establish law enforcement policies and procedures regarding AV operations and train all patrol officers in these policies and procedures. 

The full report can be found here.