Advocacy Groups Send Letter to the National Highway Traffic Administration Urging Them to Reconsider Robot Cars

Product liability attorneys know that robot cars are a popular topic to talk about these days, especially as the companies working on them promise they’ll soon be made available on a large scale. As they continue on with their plans, some are raising questions about what exactly it will mean to have these cars on the road. Debuting a vehicle with so many capabilities comes with its fair share of risks. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) seem to be fully behind this new adoption, while advocacy groups urge caution and further testing before they determine whether or not to allow these new devices on the road.

Letters and Statements

Mark Rosekind is the NHTSA Administrator, and he caused heads to turn when he stated that would not be pressured into waiting for a perfect autonomous vehicle before promoting their use on the road. Three advocacy groups, including Consumer Watchdog, sent a letter asking him to reconsider his words. While there wasn’t much pushback about his statement of perfection, they did say there should be more that is known about the safety of these vehicles before giving them a nod of approval. Those who signed the letter requested regulators not place cars on the road that have no minimum safety standards established. They quoted the recent Tesla autopilot flaw, and criticized the administrator for failing to seek out a recall. They expected the NHTSA to go to Tesla and ensure they changed their software after the autopilot feature was associated with the Tesla Model S crash in Florida. This accident ultimately took the life of the driver, a former Navy Seal. Perhaps the NHTSA could have Tesla expand their instructions to insist the driver’s hands be on the wheel or rename their software from autopilot to Pilot Assist. They argue that overall, the technology is not mature enough to consider putting on the road anytime soon, and that further experimentation would have to be conducted before going any further.

Obvious Flaws and Imperfect Vision

Those within the advocacy groups claim that even in spite of these disasters, the NHTSA is acting in a reckless way by continuing to promote these cars. They feel they want to rush robot cars instead of taking the time out for more reflection and consideration. They feel that from what they have seen, the technology clearly has flaws that need to be thoroughly examined before more people get hurt. The advocacy groups state that regulators are simply too excited over the idea of these cars to carefully consider the other side of what they may do to Americans on the roads. They insist the group goes back to the drawing board when it comes to looking at the safety standards with a more careful eye.

Their Conclusion

The groups are not against this technology on the whole, and they do admit that robot cars can save people’s lives in the future. They are much more interested in regulators having a more balanced look at the issue, rather than being short-sighted over their own idealistic notions. The advocacy groups cited their past petition when they requested the NHTSA make their own set of standards for automatic emergency braking, as opposed to relying on the auto industry’s word for it that it was safe. They believe that had this same directive been enforced with Tesla, the driver may have lived.

More to Know

While it’s true that the safety features of robotic cars cannot be denied, it’s also true that this is an incredibly new technology without a lot of precedent in its corner. It brings up a lot of fears about what will happen when one driverless car meets a car with a driver who has no turning signals, or about who will be to blame when it comes to insurance. Product liability attorneys at GOM Law want to talk to those who may have been involved with robot car technology cases. Call us today if you want to know more about your rights moving forward.

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