Self-driving cars are imminent but America’s roads aren’t ready for them

Website ‘The Hill’, which reports news from the Senate and the House, has published an article on the fact that while autonomous vehicles are rapidly being developed America’s roads are simply not ready for them.

Photo of a Google self-driving car
Google Self-Driving Car (Wikimedia Commons image)

The writer of the piece is Dan Veoni, the Global Government Affairs Manager at 3M, and he asks a very important question, namely: “How many of us… has given any thought to one critical question — is the infrastructure ready for these cars?”  Indeed, he specifies that “There needs to be support for autonomous cars across the entire automotive ecosystem and geopolitical spectrum, including uniform standards and regulations across state lines.

The sad fact is that not only has America’s road and signage infrastructure long been below desirable standards, individual states have also long deviated from the U.S. road construction standards ‘Bible’, the less-than-snappily-titled “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices,” or MUTCD.  Thus, if Mr. Veoni’s predictions are correct, what will be the safety standards that we can all look forward to when self-driving cars actually become widely available?

One thing that is too rarely mentioned is the possibility of malicious hacking of autonomous vehicles.  It might be possible for criminals to target specific vehicles but I would be more concerned about teenage geeks sitting at a computer in their bedrooms and childishly trying to show how clever they are.  But, to me, the worst scenario of all would involve cyber-terrorists, aiming to harm the economy of a city, a state, or even the nation, by harming people on the roads and/or bringing the road system and the economy into serious problems.


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Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

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