Lawmakers call for national autonomous vehicle standards

California's Department of Motor Vehicles signaled its intention to allow self-driving cars onto the state's roads by proposing autonomous vehicle testing and deployment guidelines in March 2017, but road safety advocates and many lawmakers believe that this is an issue that should be regulated at the federal level. They worry that a patchwork of state laws is creating an inconsistent regulatory landscape and could allow unproven and possibly unsafe technology onto the roads.

Measures are being considered in both the Senate and the House that would place restrictions on autonomous vehicle development, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is mulling a proposal that would compel car makers to obtain certification for their self-driving systems before testing them on public roads. Groups like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety are strong proponents of nationwide autonomous vehicle standards and have urged lawmakers to act sooner rather than later.

New rules for self-driving cars face a number of challenges. President Trump has yet to appoint an individual to run the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and he has also been an outspoken critic of strict government oversight. Time is pressing because several auto manufacturers and technology companies have vowed to bring a fully self-driving car to the market in less than five years.

Experienced personal injury attorneys would likely support measures that aim to reduce car accident rates by eliminating the human error that plays a role in the vast majority of automobile accidents. Negligent motorists can cause catastrophic harm, and attorneys may seek to hold them financially responsible for their actions by initiating litigation against them on behalf of their victims.

Source: CNN, "California is officially embracing the self-driving car", Matt McFarland, March 10, 2017

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