Is Congress Going to Put Dangerous Self-Driving Cars on the Road?

Picture of an Ambulance Zooming Down the Street

Do you remember the Takata airbag recall? You should, it was the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, and it is still going on. Dangerous airbags that can hurt and kill drivers and passengers are still on the road, and another auto safety crisis could be on the horizon. Legislation could soon put dangerous self-driving cars on highways near you, and critics are trying their best to sound an alarm.

Are Self-Driving Cars Really Ready for the Road?

The budget for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) research and safety programs is coming up soon. This bill is a must-pass piece of legislation for the agency, but a bill that has been attached to this legislation is drawing concern. The American Vision for Safer Transportation through Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act would allow automakers to roll out driverless vehicles on public streets and highways, but many think it is too early for such measures.

The Chairman of Ford Motor Company and the CEO of the Toyota Research Institute seem to be in agreement on this issue. They believe that though autonomous vehicle development is moving quickly, there’s still a long way to go before the technology is ready for roads. The Ford executive even said there has been “overpromising” and “misinformation” about the technology’s potential.

Even the public is at odds with the preparedness of self-driving technology. Polls from Gallup and Northeastern University have shown that Americans aren’t ready for cars that drive themselves. Researchers found that 62 percent of drivers weren’t comfortable with driving on the road with autonomous vehicles. Around 59 percent of those who were surveyed wouldn’t be comfortable riding in these vehicles either.

In March, a woman crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona was struck by an Uber self-driving car. The vehicle failed to “see” her despite having advanced sensor technology. She did not survive her injuries, and her passing started an uproar for increased accountability for autonomous vehicle makers. However, the AV START Act may actually reduce that accountability.

This legislation not only exempts these vehicles from many federal safety regulations, it also hurts consumers. This is because it will also limit how victims can pursue legal remedies if a self-driving vehicle causes them serious injury. Proponents of the bill say that recalls will be sufficient to keep the public safe, but the mishandling of the Takata recall has many doubting that. Other high-profile recalls, such as Volkswagen’s Dieselgate and GM’s ignition switch recall, also shine doubt on the AV START Act.

Will Congress allow the American people to become living crash test dummies for auto manufacturers? Will drivers and passengers have their rights stripped away by a rushed legislative measure? The personal injury attorneys at Polinsky Law Group LLC want to ensure that your rights are protected. We will be monitoring this story to keep you informed of how this legislation could impact your rights. If you want to ensure that your voice is heard, you can also contact your U.S. Senators to voice your opposition of this bill.

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