USA Today Op-Ed Implores Lawmakers to Outlaw Driverless Cars on Public Roads
As reported on this blog back in April, a pedestrian walking her bike across a road in Tempe, Arizona, was killed by a self-driving Uber that did not "see" her. This accident was the first that resulted in a fatality of a pedestrian from a car in full autonomous mode. Up until now, there is still no clear answer as to what caused the accident.
After this fatality shocked the public, efforts stalled to enact the AV Start Act. The AV Start Act is federal legislation that would allow experimental driverless vehicles on neighborhood streets and highways, and may exempt such vehicles from federal safety requirements. When news of the Arizona crash hit, there was considerable opposition to the passing of the AV Start Act from several senators. But now, Sen. John Thune from South Dakota, the bill's chief sponsor, and his allies apparently hope you won't remember this fatal crash or others this year involving similar technology. And the beneficiaries of the legislation, the vehicle and tech industries, are drumming up urgency that the bill must be passed soon.
However, many are opposed to the rapid passing of the AV Start Act without serious research and testing. This opposition includes Joan Claybrook of USA Today. Ms. Claybrook writes that this bill will allow “unproven, immature technologies to be sold to the public without necessary protections.”
Ms. Claybrook also states that “everyone sharing the road will be potential crash test dummies in this dangerous experiment” and that “the legislation also limits the ability of consumers to seek legal remedies for serious injuries resulting from crashes involving driverless vehicles.”