Self-driving cars are the future and, if the hundreds of autonomous vehicles being tested on roads and highways throughout the United States are any indication, the future is now. Companies such as Alphabet Inc. and Ford Motor Co. are developing and testing self-driving vehicle technology that they hope to make available to consumers in just a few short years, and ubiquitous within a generation.
However, current vehicle and highway safety regulations make it difficult to conduct meaningful tests of such non-traditional vehicles. So Congress created a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to draft new legislation that would both keep American motorists safe and allow the makers of autonomous vehicles to expand new technology.
Benefits of Self-Driving Vehicles
The main benefits of self-driving vehicles—those that use an advanced computer system to operate and navigate without human input—is to increase on-the-road safety and decrease devastating accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
According to Reuters, 2.4 million people are injured and more than 35,000 are killed in motor vehicles accidents each year in the United States, many of which are caused by simple human error. Getting rid of the potential for human error is exactly what automakers aim to do with self-driving vehicle technology.
In addition to tens of thousands of lives saved each year, some self-driving technology experts suggest that having a world with only autonomous vehicles on the road would allow people to traveler greater distances in shorter amounts of time, and without waiting for traffic lights. In this scenario, the self-driving vehicles would communicate with each other in what amounts to a mobile “air traffic control” system, with autonomous vehicles speeding up or slowing down as needed.
Challenges Associated With Self-Driving Vehicles
Despite the strong research into the safety of self-driving vehicles, many consumers remain suspicious that a machine could perform driving functions as safely as a human being.
In fact, in a March 2017 survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), 78 percent of Americans admitted being afraid to ride in a fully-autonomous vehicle. However, the survey wasn't all bad news for automakers committed to pursuing automated technologies: 69 percent said that while they found the idea of riding in a fully self-driving vehicle frightening, they look forward to having some self-driving features in their next vehicle.
Another challenge that self-driving vehicles face on the road to acceptance is a patchwork of poorly-conceived laws that varies from state-to-state. These laws make it difficult for automakers to test autonomous vehicles properly and would make it downright impossible for a consumer to take a self-driving vehicle on a cross-country road trip.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in both the House and Senate are working on new legislation designed to overhaul the United States' outdated rules governing self-driving vehicles. National autonomous vehicle legislation that replaces haphazard state-by-state laws would make it much easier for automakers to thoroughly test this emerging technology. Some of the proposed legislative changes include exempting up to 100,000 self-driving cars from current safety standards that prohibit the sale of vehicles without steering wheels and gas pedals—features some autonomous vehicles lack.
Senators John Thune and Gary Peters, and Representative Greg Walden are three of the legislators leading the charge to ensure that America paves the way on self-driving vehicle technology. They hope to unveil new legislation later in 2017.
Do You Need a Car Accident Attorney?
As impressive as self-driving vehicles are, until they're rolled out to the public, people will have to maintain control in traditional vehicles. If you were injured in a car accident caused by another motorist's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your car accident case.