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A Vision for Safety: Safer Roads through Vehicle Automation

Posted by U.S. Department of Transportation

Many of America’s leading companies are exploring one of the most exciting innovations in recent transportation history—automated driving systems (ADS)—commonly referred to as automated or self-driving vehicles.

At DOT, we’re excited about the possibility of automated vehicles delivering a future that is safer, freer, and more efficient. That’s why, this week, we released Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety. It’s a non-regulatory approach to promote the safe testing and development of these vehicles so that they can soon deliver their benefits to the American people.

Automated vehicles promise to positively transform how we live, work, and travel across America.

Fully automated vehicles have the potential to reduce—and potentially eliminate—motor vehicle-related deaths on America’s roads. In 2015 alone, 35,092 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. The vast majority of serious crashes—94 percent—are due to human error. By removing human error from the crash equation, automated vehicles could save lives.

Older Americans and people with disabilities could also benefit from fully automated vehicles. Today, many enjoy the freedom of driving using vehicles that have been adapted to meet their specific needs. However, many more could live more independently, or be better connected to jobs, services, and opportunities, with the freedom that a fully automated vehicle could provide.

Roads filled with automated vehicles could also cooperate to smooth traffic flow and reduce traffic congestion. Americans spent an estimated 6.9 billion hours in traffic delays in 2014, cutting into time at work or with family, increasing fuel costs and vehicle emission. With automated vehicles the time and money spent commuting could be put to better use.

A Vision for Safety updates the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy, released in 2016. This updated policy framework offers a path forward for the safe deployment of automated vehicles by:

  • supporting industry innovation and encouraging open communication with the public and with stakeholders;
  • making Department regulatory processes nimbler to help match the pace of private sector innovation; and,
  • encouraging new entrants and ideas that deliver safer vehicles.

Thanks to a convergence of technological advances, we are closer than ever to experiencing the promise of automated vehicles. By helping to ensure the safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles, A Vision for Safety seeks to deliver on the promise of a safer, freer, more efficient future through the transformative technology of ADS. To learn more, visit