New Laws Favor Federal Control Over Driverless Vehicle Safety
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento self-driving car accident lawyer. Some lawmakers are concerned that if bills currently in the House of Representatives and Senate were to pass, states would be prevented from instituting regulations that are aimed at industry safety standards. If states are unable to institute their own rules, the driverless car industry would be able to move forward seamlessly. Some key legislators have weighed in on this new approach.
The legislation is aimed at developing federal guidelines for safety. Since federal guidelines may take time to evolve, the autonomous car industry might be without sufficient rules for consumer protection. Some lawmakers and consumer advocates have voiced their concern over whether or not the bills include provisions to adequately regulate the autonomous car industry. The president of a consumer group said that it is unclear whether the government has the technological capability to set safety standards, including those aimed at the manufacturer of the vehicles.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Efforts
Efforts by the NHTSA to develop guidelines for regulation of the driverless car industry are ongoing. The agency is working with both automakers and Congress to develop such regulations. The NHTSA budget for 2019 includes $21 million for programs that will aid in the development of driverless cars by increasing obstacles leading to technological innovation.
House Measure Reduces Adherence to Safety Standards
The measure in the House of Representatives allows automakers to apply for exemptions for maintaining standards for motor vehicle safety. This would be permitted in increments with 25,000 available in year one and up to 100,000 exemptions permitted by year three. However, the manufacturers of the driverless vehicles would still be required to show the cars are safe to avoid serious injuries. States would retain the responsibility for inspections for safety, investigating accidents and adherence to traffic regulations.
The Senate bill, called the Stark Act, adds some rules for safety and aims at making the industry more transparent. However, it shares the House bill’s aim to concentrate safety guidelines at the federal level. One advocate of the Stark Bill promotes the use of technology at a higher level in multiple industries in the United States. The bill has passed committee, and its sponsors are hoping it will be up for a vote by the end of summer 2018.
Uber and Waymo Support Legislation
Both Uber and Waymo have voiced their support for the bills. In their opinion, the state regulations currently in place serve to limit the emergence of the autonomous industry. At of the time of this report, 29 states have initiated rules and regulations governing autonomous vehicles. Some states such as Florida and Arizona are more welcoming of driverless vehicles. In Florida, autonomous vehicles without a safety driver are allowed on state roads. Arizona welcomes the testing of autonomous vehicles.
Concerns Over New Bills
Some concerns lawmakers have about the new bills are:
- The bills provide no provisions to keep hackers from going into a vehicle’s system and causing roadway disasters
- The bills do not make it necessary to prove that the vehicle’s ability to “see” obstacles is adequate
- Standards in the bill are for fully autonomous vehicles only and lack provisions for those that employ a human safety driver
- The bills do not require a federal guidance system to be in place before eliminating state regulations
Lack of Safety Provisions May Be Problematic
The lack of provisions aimed at ensuring safety in autonomous vehicles may lead to accidents, including those involving pedestrians. The ability of an autonomous vehicle to “see” a pedestrian and stop in time was called into question in Arizona when a woman was killed by a semi-autonomous vehicle. Although a safety driver was present, no warning was given. Experts believe that autonomous vehicles will be safer due to lack of reckless driving behavior such as speeding and motoring while drunk.
Sacramento Self-Driving Car Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento self-driving car accident lawyer. If you are injured by a self-driving car or truck, you need an attorney well-versed in autonomous vehicles. Call me at (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento and the surrounding area or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. If contacting me online is easier for you, use my contact us page.
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