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Autonomous vehicle laws take a step forward

On behalf of Harry Dorian

As companies race forward to develop self-driving cars, the federal government recently issued guidance on regulations. As Pennsylvania residents continue to hear or read reports about the latest testing or advance in autonomous vehicle technology, they may also wonder how these vehicles are being monitored from a regulatory standpoint. Certainly there are numerous regulations in place for both manufacturers and vehicles when it comes to human-driven cars. Just what is the status of any similar regulations for self-driving cars?

Manufacturers indicate a desire for federal oversight

In February of 2017, Recode reported that many companies actively involved in the development and manufacture of self-driving cars indicated a desire for the federal government to get involved in regulating their industry and vehicles. One of the big reasons for this request was to prevent individual states from developing their own regulations that may end up at times conflicting with one another. If this were to happen, it could be extremely difficult for companies to develop vehicles that meet all of the various regulations across different state lines. In fact, this scenario is potentially underway.

According to the Insurance Journal, 14 states already have some type of laws in place regarding autonomous vehicles. Another 25 states are said to have laws or bills in process. While federal involvement is sought, manufacturers did indicate some hesitation that the government could become too concerned about individual technologies rather than the ultimate goal of improved safety.

Congress issues guiding principles for future legislation

Government Technology explains that in June of 2017, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology issued guidelines by which any future laws governing self-driving cars must follow. One of these guidelines is the requirements for laws to avoid giving preference to any particular technology. Instead, the primary focus should essentially be on the desired outcome which is improved safety.

Any laws enacted should directly support this goal. Laws that avoid hindering ongoing innovation and technological advances are also encouraged by the congressional principles. A focus on laws that boost cybersecurity to reduce the risk of autonomous vehicles being attacked by hackers and efforts that attempt to increase public awareness and education about self-driving cars are promoted. Finally, the committee indicated that any discrepancy between state and federal regulations needs to be clearly identified.

An ongoing issue that will require help

The sheer newness of both autonomous vehicles and any associated legislation will make it essential for drivers in Pennsylvania involved in crashes with these cars to seek legal help promptly. Regardless of what type of vehicle is involved in a wreck, individuals should still be eligible for compensation for their injuries and losses.