NHTSA Official Joins Google as Safety Director for Self-Driving Cars

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Self-driving cars just received a big kudos with the National High­way Traf­fic Safety Administration’s deputy direc­tor Ron Med­ford leav­ing the agency to work for Google Inc. as direc­tor of safety for self-driving cars. Med­ford has more than 40 years in gov­ern­ment posi­tions and was a key player in the final­iz­ing the 54.5 mpg cor­po­rate aver­age fuel econ­omy by 2025 stan­dards. At NHTSA, he’s been heav­ily involved in major safety issues NHTSA has been inves­ti­gat­ing in recent years, along with set­ting new safety rules.

Google thinks dri­ver­less cars could be avail­able to con­sumers within a decade; the com­pany has played a lead­ing role in Nevada, Cal­i­for­nia, and Florida agree­ing to test and prob­a­bly adopt dri­ver­less cars in the state in com­ing years. Safety and lit­i­ga­tion issues are being ana­lyzed, and NHTSA has taken on forum meet­ings recently to explore impli­ca­tions at the fed­eral level. NHTSA Admin­is­tra­tor David Strick­land said at a recent meet­ing that the agency is work­ing on a two– to three-year research project before it begins writ­ing rules to over­see dri­ver­less cars in the next few years. Strick­land hopes the tech­nol­ogy could one day save thou­sands of lives.

“I often say that safety is the num­ber one pri­or­ity at the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, and no one indi­vid­ual has worked harder to pro­tect the safety of the trav­el­ing pub­lic than Ron Med­ford,” said Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Ray LaHood. “Thanks to his exten­sive expe­ri­ence with auto­mo­bile safety, his skills as a man­ager, and his tire­less work ethic, he has been an indis­pens­able part of our efforts to make cars safer, elim­i­nate acci­dents caused by drunk and dis­tracted dri­ving, and improve fuel econ­omy for dri­vers across the country.”

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