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Advocacy groups seek national autonomous vehicle regulations

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced in May that the engineering and design firm Arcadis had been contracted to look into the impact that autonomous vehicles will have on the state's highway system, but several road safety advocacy groups feel that this is an issue that should be addressed by Congress. Organizations like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety worry that a patchwork of state laws and regulations would leave gaps that could allow untested and possibly dangerous technology onto the roads.

These calls have not gone unheeded, and measures dealing with autonomous vehicles are currently being discussed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Proposals being reviewed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would require companies like Apple and Google to certify their autonomous systems before testing them on public roads. The measures would also restrict the number of self-driving cars that manufacturers can test at any given time.

Obstacles to federal self-driving car regulations include a political climate hostile to excessive government oversight and pressure from manufacturers vying to be the first to introduce a fully autonomous vehicle. President Trump's delay in appointing a new chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is another challenge. However, manufacturers keen to stay ahead of their competition seem unwilling to wait for official action. Ford recently announced that it will be investing $1 billion in autonomous systems in the coming years, and General Motors responded by saying that it will be allocating a further $500 million to its self-driving car program.

The overwhelming majority of car accidents involve human error, and experienced personal injury attorneys will likely support regulations that encourage the development of autonomous driving systems. When crashes and injuries are caused by reckless or negligent behavior on the part of others, attorneys may seek compensation for accident victims by filing lawsuits on their behalf.

Source: Engineering News-Record, "Louisiana Begins Planning on Impacts of Connected, Autonomous Vehicles", Louise Poirier, May 23, 2017

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