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Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary developing autonomous drive vehicles and technology, is teaming with some of the country's best-known safety advocates to raise awareness of the potential for self-driving cars to save lives.
The campaign, "Let's Talk Self Driving," will start with digital and outdoor advertising in Arizona, where Waymo is testing autonomous drive vehicles.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, the Foundation for Blind Children and the Foundation for Senior Living are among the groups teaming with Waymo in hopes of making the public more comfortable with the idea of sharing the road with autonomous drive vehicles.
"Automation holds incredible promise, but as our driving culture evolves, Americans will need to understand what self-driving vehicles can and cannot do," said Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council and the former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
"We must look for new ways to stop old problems," said MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church. "Fully autonomous vehicle technology holds incredible potential to completely eliminate drunk driving and other causes of traffic deaths."
Last week, the Transportation Department announced that U.S. traffic deaths rose by 5.6 percent in 2016, to 37,461. An increase in drunken-driving-related accidents contributed to the increase.
In announcing the campaign, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said: "There's a lot to talk about when it comes to self-driving cars. As with any new technology, there's great enthusiasm and curiosity about self-driving cars — and there's some confusion, too."
Waymo is expected to launch a self-driving ride-sharing pilot program in the Phoenix area this fall.
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