Fewer Safety Standards on Driverless Cars Could be Trouble for Consumers

From Colorado lawyer Amy Gaiennie

As the country becomes closer to seeing more driverless cars on the roads than those with humans behind the wheel, a debate rages in Congress. Automakers in Silicon Valley, as well as in major auto manufacturing states such as Ohio and Michigan, are now pushing Congress to prevent individual states from imposing their own tighter safety regulations on driverless cars.

There are many areas in which individual states have control over the laws they impose. But after the House passed a bill in the fall of 2017, and now with legislation pending in the Senate, that control may be taken away from them if the new legislation passes through Congress, too. The idea of taking away the state’s rights to impose their own safety and performance standards is said to be so the manufacturing of driverless cars can be more streamlined.

However, the problem is that taking away certain safety regulations could be placing consumers at risk – those that are passengers in the cars, cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers on the road.

A lot of testing has already been done on these cars in certain cities around the country. And even during the testing phases, there have been problems. In March a pedestrian was hit and killed by an Uber vehicle that was in self-driving mode in Tempe, Arizona. This has led to questions of not only consumer safety, but also real questions about who can be held liable in these types of accidents.

Having fewer safety regulations on driverless cars just does not make a whole lot of sense. If anything, these vehicles should have more safety regulations imposed on them because there is no rational thinking behind the wheel. States should always be given the option of imposing their own regulations, particularly when it comes to keeping the residents of those states safer on the road.

If the new law was to pass through Senate and the Congress, it could spell bad news for several states. 29 states, in addition to Washington D.C., have already created legislation related to driverless cars in anticipation of these autonomous cars hitting the road.

Personal Injury Attorney Amy Gaiennie is the Managing Member of The Gaiennie Law Office, which has served the injured of Colorado for 15 years. Ms. Gaiennie is a member of the Auto Litigation Committee, Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. She can be found on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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