Self-dri¬≠ving cars just received a big kudos with the Nation¬≠al High¬≠way Traf¬≠fic Safe¬≠ty Administration‚Äôs deputy direc¬≠tor Ron Med¬≠ford leav¬≠ing the agency to work for Google Inc. as direc¬≠tor of safe¬≠ty for self-dri¬≠ving cars. Med¬≠ford has more than 40 years in gov¬≠ern¬≠ment posi¬≠tions and was a key play¬≠er in the final¬≠iz¬≠ing the 54.5 mpg cor¬≠po¬≠rate aver¬≠age fuel econ¬≠o¬≠my by 2025 stan¬≠dards. At NHTSA, he‚Äôs been heav¬≠i¬≠ly involved in major safe¬≠ty issues NHTSA has been inves¬≠ti¬≠gat¬≠ing in recent years, along with set¬≠ting new safe¬≠ty rules.
Google thinks dri¬≠ver¬≠less cars could be avail¬≠able to con¬≠sumers with¬≠in a decade; the com¬≠pa¬≠ny has played a lead¬≠ing role in Neva¬≠da, Cal¬≠i¬≠for¬≠nia, and Flori¬≠da agree¬≠ing to test and prob¬≠a¬≠bly adopt dri¬≠ver¬≠less cars in the state in com¬≠ing years. Safe¬≠ty and lit¬≠i¬≠ga¬≠tion issues are being ana¬≠lyzed, and NHTSA has tak¬≠en on forum meet¬≠ings recent¬≠ly to explore impli¬≠ca¬≠tions at the fed¬≠er¬≠al lev¬≠el. NHTSA Admin¬≠is¬≠tra¬≠tor David Strick¬≠land said at a recent meet¬≠ing that the agency is work¬≠ing on a two- to three-year research project before it begins writ¬≠ing rules to over¬≠see dri¬≠ver¬≠less cars in the next few years. Strick¬≠land hopes the tech¬≠nol¬≠o¬≠gy could one day save thou¬≠sands of lives.
‚ÄúI often say that safe¬≠ty is the num¬≠ber one pri¬≠or¬≠i¬≠ty at the Depart¬≠ment of Trans¬≠porta¬≠tion, and no one indi¬≠vid¬≠ual has worked hard¬≠er to pro¬≠tect the safe¬≠ty of the trav¬≠el¬≠ing pub¬≠lic than Ron Med¬≠ford,‚ÄĚ said Trans¬≠porta¬≠tion Sec¬≠re¬≠tary Ray LaHood. ‚ÄúThanks to his exten¬≠sive expe¬≠ri¬≠ence with auto¬≠mo¬≠bile safe¬≠ty, his skills as a man¬≠ag¬≠er, and his tire¬≠less work eth¬≠ic, he has been an indis¬≠pens¬≠able part of our efforts to make cars safer, elim¬≠i¬≠nate acci¬≠dents caused by drunk and dis¬≠tract¬≠ed dri¬≠ving, and improve fuel econ¬≠o¬≠my for dri¬≠vers across the coun¬≠try.‚ÄĚ