Currently, there is legislation up for consideration that will make way for autonomous vehicles to operate on a regular basis, and some will not require a driver. Certain large franchises are pushing for the approval of such bills, as it will allow them to reduce shipping costs. Though this could be a win for big business, what does it do for public safety?
While the implementation of advanced technologies helps to increase the safety of autonomous vehicles, there is still room for concern amongst consumers. What is truly being done to protect the safety of all parties on the road? Thankfully, there are guidelines in place and developing testing options intended to try to increase safety.
There are not yet any federal laws that specifically govern autonomous vehicles or driver-assist technologies. However, in 2016, the United States DoT released its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy that provides a 15-point assessment to evaluate the safety and performance of autonomous vehicles. The plan is for legislators to review and revise the policy annually, as technologies advance. Though the intentions are good, the guidelines currently make reporting the assessment results voluntary, which leaves some speculation in regards to accountability for autonomous vehicle developers.
With such loose regulation on the operation of autonomous vehicles, companies have already begun testing of their technologically driven vehicles on the open road. This has garnered mixed results. Uber, the ride-sharing company, safely put self-driving vehicles into rotation for a brief stint, until California regulators protested their lack of proper permits. On the other hand, a driver utilizing Tesla’s driver-assist technology died in a car accident due to the technology failing to avoid collision with a tractor-trailer. Since then, Tesla continues to develop and plan to release other autonomous vehicles.
The autonomous vehicle technologies are continuously advancing, and hopefully legislation and regulations will advance with them to ensure the safety of motorists and prevent a sharp increase in car accidents. At this point, it may be best for drivers to remain knowledgeable of the coming advancements and stay vigilant on the roads.