Say what you will about American politics, but the US House of Representatives has passed the “SELF-DRIVE Act” (H.R. 3388) – a bipartisan bill that would open up autonomous vehicle regulation for manufacturers.
The big advantage of the SELF-DRIVE Act is that it would supersede the varying and ad hoc state rules that manufacturers must currently adhere to while developing their autonomous platforms.
The bill would also do away with some safety standards put in place for vehicles with drivers, such as where the steering wheel and foot pedals must be located.
Lastly, the SELF-DRIVE Act would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to research and develop a way of conveying to consumers the level of automation a vehicle possesses.
National crash statistics for 2015 have just been released, and overall, the news is not good. After decades of seeing road fatalities drop, 2015 saw an 7.2% increase in fatalities across all vehicles.
The increase comes primarily from an increase in miles driven by Americans, but the data also shows an increase in the number of crashes per mile driven, suggesting that the trend isn’t just from drivers being on the road more.
For motorcyclists, 2015 was especially bad, with motorcycle crash fatalities increasing by 8.3%, though motorcycle crash injuries were down 4.3% last year.
Take heart my two-wheel riding cohort: four courageous, topical, and freedom-loving senators are fighting for your right not to be discriminated against based on the number of wheels between your knees.
A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 5th aims to prohibit the use of federal funding to programs that seek to setup “motorcycle-only checkpoints.”
The aptly named, “Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act,” would restrict the Secretary of Transportation from granting funds to government entities that want to make sure you and your passenger have on a helmet, amongst other things.
Big news dropped today in the world of automobiles and motorcycles. The US Department of Transportation (DOT), along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has announced that the vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is a step closer to becoming a reality in the United States.
The DOT has decided to move forward with plans to mandate V2V systems for light on-road vehicles, i.e. cars and presumably motorcycles as well. The technology is complex to implement, but the concept is fairly simple: vehicles broadcast their direction, speed, and relative speed to one another — 10 times every second — in an effort to avoid collisions.
V2V enables other vehicles near by to gauge whether or not a collision or safety concern is about to happen between the two vehicles, and alert the drivers to avoid an accident. In essence, V2V is the first active safety system for automobiles — i.e. we are now enabling safety systems that prevent accidents, rather than just lessening the severity of them.
We have talked at great lengths here at Asphalt & Rubber about what V2V can mean for motorcyclists, especially as autonomous vehicles use the communications system and become more prevalent on the road. In the long-term, V2V will introduce a huge shift in our driving culture, and it is not clear what the means for motorcyclists.
According to the NHTSA, motorcycle deaths in the United States dropped by 16% in 2009 compared to the number of deaths in 2008. With 4,462 deaths in 2009 and 5,312 deaths in 2008, this makes for the first time motorcycle death tolls have dropped in the past decade; however federal officials are reluctant to call this a victory in rider safety.
“While we are pleased that the number of motorcycling fatalities dropped dramatically in 2009, a one-year drop isn’t a trend. We need to determine why, and ensure that the decline continues,” said Ed Moreland, AMA Senior Vice President for Government Relations.