Full Driving Engagement Optional

February 6th, 2024
cars, tech
Yesterday the Secretary of Transportation wrote:

ALL advanced driver assistance systems available today require the human driver to be in control and fully engaged in the driving task at all times.

While the driver who prompted this was extremely reckless, driving while wearing a 3D headset (video), Buttigieg is wrong here.

Advanced driver assistance systems can cover a range of things, from anti-lock brakes to adaptive cruise control and up. For the last several months, however, Americans have been able to buy Mercedes vehicles equipped with the Level 3 Drive Pilot which, under very specific circumstances [1], do not require the person in the driver seat to be engaged in the task of driving. Instead they can legally (and, according to Mercedes, safely) read, play games, or watch videos, as long as they're prepared to retake control of the vehicle with ten seconds of notice.

Now, this is really a minor caveat, and even if you were in a car with Drive Pilot you couldn't safely wear a headset. But this also seems like a situation where the Secretary of Transportation should be up to date on technological and regulatory advancements.

[1] On specific highways in CA and NV, in traffic that limits speeds to under 40mph, during the day, in good weather, etc.

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