Autonomous, also known as self-driving vehicles have been getting a lot of attention over the last five years. Car manufacturers like Tesla have built entire businesses making autonomous vehicles accessible to the masses. However, there have been some serious issues with self-driving cars. In 2016, a Floridian Tesla owner lost his life after the car crashed into a moving truck on the highway. The vehicle was driving on Autopilot while the driver was asleep.
The investigation revealed that the car’s camera was unable to detect the white pick-up truck due to glare from the sky. The car did not deploy the system brakes, and the driver was asleep which prevented him from applying the brakes. The vehicle autopilot system was not at fault because it performed at its intended output.
After the fatal incident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped in to perform an investigation. The Administration concluded that the Tesla autopilot system did not have enough safeguards in place to prevent accidents. Although the administration wants Tesla to work on improvements, it did not issue a recall for Tesla autopilot vehicles.
New Regulations and the Government
The U.S. Transportation Department Secretary Elaine Chao visited a self-driving car manufacturing plant in Michigan and spoke about a brand-new initiative. The proposal drafted in September 2017 is titled, “Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety”. The initiative lists voluntary guidelines the National Highway Traffic Administration and the U.S. Transportation Department believes car manufacturers, government officials, and insurance companies should follow.
The revised guidelines are intended to improve autonomous vehicle testing and system deployment. The Transportation Department believes the auto industry must be transparent in their practices to educate the public about autonomous vehicles.
The guidelines will replace Obama-era policies that made self-driving vehicle manufacturers submit vehicle safety assessments to government officials before automobile testing. Now carmakers have the option to submit safety assessments because it is no longer a requirement. Manufacturers will also not be required to submit information about assessments to the general public. The Secretary of the U.S. Transportation Department promotes the new policy as a guidance document.
In September 2017, the House of Representatives approved a bill that allows car manufacturers to deploy self-driving cars for testing on American highways. Congress estimates hundreds of thousands of vehicles will be deployed for testing within the next few years. Many states have passed individual laws to regulate self-driving vehicles, but this new bill is one of the first Federal provisions.
The bill was met with fierce opposition from members of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety group and the Consumers Union. However, the bill will not take effect until Senate votes and signs it into law. The new bill prevents states from enacting laws that regulate the manufacture of autonomous vehicles, but they reserve the right to regulate insurance and licensure.
Autonomous Vehicles in the Future
Carmakers believe that in the future, autonomous vehicles will prevent or limit car accidents. Following the fatal Florida crash, Tesla has modified its autopilot system. The new system requires more output from the driver. Tesla manufacturers revised the system’s camera and radar sensors to better recognize obstructions.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates Help Those Injured in Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident involving an autonomous vehicle, the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates will help you get the justice you seek. Call us today at 215-567-6600 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.