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.”