Consumer advocates are criticizing a bill that is headed for a vote soon in the U.S. Senate that would clear potential legal hurdles for the deployment of driverless cars. According to a FairWarning report, critics of this proposal say it lacks the safeguards needed to protect the public and would leave automakers to regulate themselves – a strategy that has been known to fail miserably in the past. The measure, which is being pushed by auto industry lobbyists is called the AV START Act, which stands for “American Vision for Safer Transportation Through the Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies.”
Safety Takes the Back Seat
While the name sounds harmless, what this would actually do is prohibit states and municipalities from setting safety rules for driverless cars. Over the next few years, the bill would also allow hundreds of thousands of driverless vehicles to be exempt from existing federal standards for conventional cars and trucks, such as requirements for steering wheel pedals.
Safety advocates and experts argue that driverless cars are still far from ready for primetime. If this proposal goes through, the industry would be completely in control when it comes to consumer safety. And as auto defect attorneys we’ve sees history prove to us time and time again that automakers do not put profits over safety. This proposal treats consumers like guinea pigs to test out technology that has not been proven safe just yet.
Some senators – five Senate democrats – have called for stronger safety measures raising concern over the fact that this bill “indefinitely preempts” state and local regulations even if federal standards are not developed. However, crowds of lobbyists for the auto industry are pushing this proposal that is before the Senate.
The Dangers of Driverless Cars
So far, there have been a few crashes, some fatal, that have raised red flags with regard to driverless cars. In March, an Uber driverless vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian as she walked her bike across a roadway in Tempe, Ariz. During the same month, the driver of a Tesla operating in Autopilot mode was fatally injured in a crash in Mountain View, California. Also, in May 2016, another Tesla driver was killed in a Florida crash after his vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer.
While we are not opposed to the development of cutting-edge technology, we believe that these vehicles should not be put on our roadways before they are properly tested. It is unacceptable for automakers and tech companies to test these vehicles on us, the public. Automakers have had a horrible track record of regulating or policing themselves. It is imperative that Congress takes the necessary measures so public safety is not sacrificed in the name of innovation.