Driverless cars are no longer the work of science fiction. As the world’s largest automakers race to bring autonomous driving vehicles to American highways, politicians, auto manufacturers, and safety advocates cannot seem to agree on how quickly that should happen. Driverless cars are designed to reduce the number of serious car accidents caused by human error. Yet, safety experts feel the road-testing process for driverless cars presents a risk in itself.
Proposed Safety Guidelines for Driverless Cars
Legislation currently under consideration by a House Energy and Commerce panel proposes more self-driving cars on the road than most safety advocates are comfortable with. Members of the Senate are simultaneously working on guidelines to approve driverless cars for real-world testing. Safety advocates oppose any legislation movement without the input from the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a position that is currently vacant and awaiting a Presidential appointment.
Automakers want the federal government to mandate vehicle safety – and do so with a gentle hand. The proposals currently under panel review prohibit individual states from enacting their own regulations pertaining to driverless car safety and performance. The Republican-proposed legislation also allows for more extensive real-world testing for autonomous cars and trucks.
General Motors recently expanded its driverless car fleet from 50 vehicles to 180. These vehicles are currently being road-tested in three different U.S. cities. Apple and Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc. also announced plans to test more self-driving cars in the near future. Safety advocates are concerned about the risks to other drivers if these vehicles hit the road without extensive safety regulations in place.
Current Safety Guidelines for Emerging Auto Technology
Currently, NHTSA regulations require new vehicles to satisfy safety standards before allowing them on the road. However, there is an exception for automakers road-testing new safety features. NHTSA also allows cars that exceed overall safety guidelines for conventional vehicles on the road – even if they do not meet specific safety requirements. In that case, automakers must demonstrate exactly how the vehicle in question is safer than a conventional vehicle.
The Obama administration created the only real guidelines designed specifically for self-driving vehicles. These guidelines, which are voluntary, give NHTSA officials the authority to oversee automated technology development. The guidelines are flexible enough to allow for the changes as driverless car safety and technology evolves.
Although cars featuring automated technology such as crash avoidance systems and lane departure alerts are already on the market, fully automated driverless cars are still years away. As automakers race to lead the pack in bringing driverless cars to consumers, finding the balance between innovation and safety will undoubtedly be an ongoing challenge.
The possibility of fully driverless cars is exciting. However, without extensive safety regulations, driverless cars – even during the testing phase – can pose a danger to drivers. Car accident victims injured by a defective auto part or a distracted or reckless driver may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills and pain and suffering.
Chester County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Stay Current on Laws and Regulations Regarding Driverless Cars
Chester County car accident lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC fight for injured victims until justice is served. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced and dedicated Chester County car accident lawyer by calling 215-515-2236 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located throughout Pennsylvania, to serve the greater Philadelphia region as well as those in New Jersey and Delaware.