Even as driverless car companies are unveiling their test vehicles on streets in cities nationwide, they are unleashing their lobbyists on Congress with the goal of keeping California regulators at bay, the Associated Press reports. According to the article, automakers are simply not happy with the prospect of California writing the rules of the driverless road. The fact that California has influenced air pollution and fuel economy rules has bothered automakers in the past.
Now, as state regulators are moving to impose strict safety and privacy regulations on driverless vehicles, the companies have responded by spearheading a measure in Congress to force California and other states to yield rulemaking authority to the Trump administration. At stake are regulations that will guide what could be the most groundbreaking technological revolution in transportation, and the balance between an administration that is friendly to industry and a more consumer-friendly government in California.
Safety and Privacy Laws in Danger
Industry lobbyists say the state is over-regulating the driverless car industry thereby “stifling innovation.” These lobbyists hope that action by Congress will help override state’s regulations and replace them with new federal rules, which will likely be friendlier to the industry. However, California regulators warn that such a move will endanger a first-of-its-kind safety rule that forces driverless firms to detail for the public every malfunction that has caused a test vehicle to be taken off the roads.
They also fear it might exempt driverless car manufacturers from California’s new landmark privacy law, leaving passengers unable to opt out of having their movements tracked and data about their riding habits shared with other parties. It could also ban state and local governments from adopting laws that California officials say will be crucial to safely adapting to the new technology.
The National Association of City Transportation officials has joined cities, state lawmakers and consumer rights groups in urging senators not to approve the pending bill called AV START warning that it could give a “national carte blanche for experimentation on public roadways putting real people in the place of crash dummies.”
Safety Should Come First
Our auto defect attorneys are on the side of California regulators and consumers. We believe that consumers should have the right to information and data about malfunctions in driverless vehicles. Companies that make driverless vehicles should not be able to override privacy laws. We hope federal lawmakers give serious consideration to changing laws that could put the public in harm’s way. Under no circumstances should members of the public be used as guinea pigs to test driverless vehicles. It is unacceptable.