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NHTSA Releases Safety Plan for Self-Driving Cars

Posted on Sep 29, 2016

Driving can be dangerous. Trying to navigate around reckless, negligent, or distracted drivers is a difficult task and often leaves drivers suffering serious injuries after an accident occurs. For this reason, Google created self-driving cars.

While self-driving cars are mostly safe, a rash of fatal accidents caused by self-driving Tesla Model S sedans has inspired the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a new federal safety plan for self-automated vehicles. The DOT hopes it will eventually bring a new level of safety and mobility for American drivers.

What does the safety plan entail?

Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that the organization’s new policy plan will “require companies making driver-assist tech to determine how much a driver needs to stay vigilant, and then identify where their tech fits.”

Once a company has produced new technology, the NHTSA and DOT will inspect and evaluate the tech to ensure that it meets the classifications.

Can the public weigh in?

If you have a strong opinion on the future of self-driving or partially self-automated cars in America, you are not alone. That is why the government agencies are asking for public input on the topic.

Until mid-November, you can visit the Transportation Department website to give your feedback that will help the DOT update its policy on an annual basis going forward.

The agency is determined to get the policy right, especially since a March 2016 study by the DOT found that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards currently do not address self-driving vehicle technologies.

This means that manufacturers can release all levels of self-automated technology without any official safety guidelines with which to evaluate them.

When will the agencies enact the policy?

While vehicle standards often take years to develop and are based on new technologies that have made “significant market penetration,” the DOT and NHTSA hope to update the policy within about a year.

While these entities are dedicating their time to making self-driving cars safe enough to share the road with us, there will likely be some growing pains and quite a few accidents.

Which leads to a very interesting and important question: In the event that one of these cars causes an accident, who will be at fault?

Will the “driver” of the car be liable? Will victims be able to hold the manufacturer liable for negligence?

As of now, these questions have yet to be answered. However, the policy states that each state needs “identify and address” (with help from the NHTSA) questions relating to liability, car insurance, and car maintenance. This means that we can hopefully look forward to these answers within the next year or so.

To stay up-to-date on self-driving car technology and its effects on car accidents and liability, check out our blog.

And if you are injured in a car accident, Goldstein & Bashner can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Give us a call today: 516-874-4362.

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