November 1, 2021
The Honorable Mr. Pete Buttigieg
Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Buttigieg,
We support the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its mission to develop an approach for the safe introduction of vehicles with advanced driver assistance technology that is necessary for both public safety as well as the development of public confidence in this new technology. To this end, we applaud the recent appointment of Dr. Mary Cummings to be a senior advisor for safety at NHTSA. Dr. Cummings is an extremely well-qualified and well-informed expert in vehicles with advanced driver assistance technology and human-automation interaction who brings a wealth of knowledge to the job of developing scientifically sound policies for the safe deployment of these vehicles on our nation's highways.
At this time of increasing deaths on our roadways, technology advancements can help improve safety for people both inside and outside motor vehicles. The proper implementation and oversight of this technology is key to reducing these preventable fatalities. The Department of Transportation (DOT) must ensure compliance with current safety regulations and promulgate new, overdue regulations to require proper testing and understanding of vehicles with advanced driver assistance technology. Some three decades of research on human-automation interaction, as well as recent reports from the National Transportation Safety Board, show that people become over-reliant on automation, losing situation awareness leading to slower responses when human intervention is needed. The design of vehicles with advanced driver assistance technology requires careful attention to the driver interface to inform drivers of the state of the automation and to keep them from succumbing to the loss of vigilance that is common with automation.
We are confident that Dr. Cummings is the right person to provide the needed leadership at this time, and we look forward to working with the entire team at DOT to save lives.
Christopher R. Reid, PhD
President, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
President and CEO, National Safety Council
Jeffrey F. Paniati, P.E.
Executive Director and CEO, Institute of Transportation Engineers
Executive Director, Vision Zero Network
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