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Hai Di King's comments confirm once again the agency's hands-off approach to driverless car management. Car safety advocates criticized the practice as too lax. Uber's driverless SUV killed a pedestrian in March, sparking calls for regulation. Senate Democrats have also suspended a House regulation intended to pave the way for businesses to deploy more driverless cars on the road.
Hai Di King says NHTSA is committed to removing barriers to driverless cars from existing regulations. Earlier this year, the agency sought industry advice to identify problematic car standards.
She pointed out that NHTSA is willing to use fault investigations, recalls and other enforcement powers to curb the dangers of driverless cars. She added that what is more worrying is the “environmental enemy” of road safety: drunk driving and not wearing seat belts. These two actions cause thousands of traffic fatalities each year in the United States.
"in the grand plan to save lives, as a nation, we still have to work hard to address the problems posed by abnormal driving and flawed human decision-making." Hai Di King said.
According to the agency's estimates, the number of road traffic deaths in the United States in 2016 was 37,461, an increase of 5.6% compared to 2015.
The position of NHTSA director has been vacant since Mark Rosekind left office in early 2017. Hai Di King, who has been the agency's interim head for more than nine months, was nominated in April to head the agency.