Self-driving cars may well end up significantly reducing injuries and fatalities on the nation's roads. However, there are still issues that need to be worked out. Two recent fatal crashes involving autonomous vehicles have some consumers, manufacturers and legislators concerned.
One of those legislators is U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. He is calling for proposed legislation regarding these vehicles to mandate additional safeguards. One of them, says the Connecticut senator, is the requirement of technology allowing the driver to manually override the autopilot feature. Sen. Blumenthal, who sits on the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation, also wants evaluations during the testing phase of these vehicles to be made public.
A policy expert with Consumer Reports agrees that additional safety regulations need to be added to proposed legislation. He says that competition among makers of self-driving vehicles has created "a race to be first instead of a race to be safe." However, he says, "you put people at risk and you potentially could set this technology back years if not decades." That technology, says Sen. Blumenthal, is still in the "toddler state of development."
Sen. Blumenthal recently rode as a passenger in two semi-autonomous vehicles on a test track. He saw firsthand the importance of manual override when the person behind the wheel of one vehicle had to use it to avoid hitting a parked car.
The senator, in discussing his concerns about autonomous driving technology, said, "I'm not a Luddite. I'm not simply standing in the way of progress. I believe that autonomous or driverless vehicles will be coming." However, he added that "we need more testing, more guarantees of safety and more protections."
It's not unusual for laws and regulations to lag behind rapidly-accelerating technology. Exactly who is liable for crashes involving autonomous vehicles can still be a complicated question. Drivers have to remain alert even if their hands don't have to be on the wheel. However, they reasonably expect the vehicle to "drive" in a safe manner.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a crash with a self-driving car, an experienced Kentucky attorney can provide essential guidance and work to seek the compensation from the appropriate people and/or entities.