Senate Approved Autonomous Car Legislation, But Are We Ready for Self-Driving Cars?

Posted on October 17th, 2017
By Steven Gursten

The United States Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill in January 2017 that expedites the process of putting autonomous cars on the road. But, many Americans don’t think we’re ready for this type of technology. A recent study shows that a majority of those polled in the U.S. worry about the safety of driverless vehicles. Auto industry insiders, however, predict that automated cars will reduce vehicular accident frequency by as much as 90%.

There is much debate among the general public, lawyers, and automakers, on what the future will bring with regard to autonomous technology. In addition to discussing safety, ongoing conversations include talk about liability in cases of crashes. Driverless vehicles aren’t predicted to completely remove risk and eliminate accidents, but rather significantly reduce crashes. When an accident does occur because of an automated car, however, most lawyers agree that the automaker will be held responsible.

Senate Commerce Committee Bill Still Needs Senate Approval

The Senate Commerce Committee Bill, called the American Vision for Safer Transportation through the Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START), still needs Senate approval. If approved, the bill would disallow individual states from creating their own laws regulating autonomous cars.

If passed, the bill would give auto manufacturers the green light to sell as many as 80,000 automated cars per year in the United States. Senator Gary Peters (D-Fla.) stated that self-driving cars will make transformative changes, reducing accidents, improving mobility and enhancing safety for the millions that travel on America’s roads.

He adds that passing the bill will help ensure the U.S. stays at the forefront of automotive innovation by enhancing life-changing and lifesaving technologies in our country.

Auto Safety Advocates Have Concerns

Automobile safety advocates have concerns about automated cars, despite the Senate Commerce Committee and auto industry insiders’ push for the technology. The Advocates for Highway and Road Safety organization states that the new bill “lacks critical protections for the public.” The bill, they point out, allows up to 100,000 automobiles per application to be considered exceptions to federal safety standards, during the first 3 years of manufacture. The advocacy group further claims there isn’t any mechanism in place ensuring that exempted driverless cars would perform safely when on the road.

Lacking appropriate oversight, auto manufacturers could ask for and receive increasing numbers of these types of exemptions. We can’t begin to understand yet if the automated vehicle products will produce hazards that hadn’t been identified during testing.

Insiders Nonetheless Predict a Bright Future for Driverless Car Technology

Even though we don’t know how driverless car technology will develop or be regulated, industry insiders have great hope for the future. Most who support the Senate Commerce Committee bill say they look forward to a time when automobile accidents, or at least most of them, are a thing of the past.

Attorneys deal with terrible crash cases all the time, and automated cars look to be a viable way to keep thousands of people safe and alive on our country’s roads, especially with regard to distracted driving accidents. Many backers of the technology and bill say that we shouldn’t be seeking perfection, but rather an improvement in driving conditions and increased safety. That’s why a great number of attorneys, experts in the auto industry, and members of the general public feel that supporting new laws to encourage and allow autonomous car technology is best.

Until driverless cars help reduce accidents, human-caused car accidents are still quite prevalent unfortunately. If you’ve been in an auto accident due to an unsafe driver, fill out the form on this page and an attorney from Taos Injury Lawyers will be in touch with you promptly.

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