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Lawmakers seek highway safety by regulating self-driving cars

These blogs are posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

While it may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, self-driving cars are not that far into the future. Some are eagerly anticipating the advent of autonomous cars because the vehicles promise greater highway safety by reducing the human factor in driving. Others recall the recent deadly crashes of automated cars and wonder if the technology is ready for today's commuters. However, Pennsylvania lawmakers support new guidelines that bring more regulation to the futuristic vehicles.

Although a few states already have strong laws governing autonomous vehicles, many safety advocates are celebrating recent steps taken toward federal laws regulating the new technology. The new framework would replace the piecemeal state laws with a more uniform set of standards. Among those standards would be a requirement that safety questions about new vehicle plans be answered by manufacturers before any vehicles are made or dispatched onto the highways. The government may also claim the authority to approve new technologies before they are made available to the public.

This is only the beginning of federal regulation, and there are still many undecided items. One question that has not been answered satisfactorily is the problem of who will be held liable when people are killed or injured in accidents caused by self-driving vehicles. Some believe the cars' manufacturers would bear the liability.

The overall hope for a future with self-driven cars is the increase of highway safety and the drastic reduction of injuries and fatalities on Pennsylvania roads and beyond. Computerized sensors making decisions about rapidly changing traffic situations may save thousands of lives. However, until the vehicles are routinely encountered in everyday circumstances, there is no predicting how it will be. We may be on the cusp of unprecedented changes in personal injury law.

This blog entry was posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

Source: morningconsult.com, "DOT's New Driverless Car Policy Welcomed, With Caveats", Brendan Bordelon, Sept. 20, 2016

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