Self-Driving Car Lobby Hopes to Influence Policy

Posted On: May 10, 2016 under

As Google and other companies inch ever closer to creating and releasing their own autonomous vehicles to the marketplace, the legalities of using such vehicles are coming into focus. In a move that has some personal injury lawyers and consumers concerned, a lobbying group called the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets has been formed by Google, Uber, Lyft, Ford, and Volvo. Its head is David Strickland, a former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Administration, and its aim—after successfully delivering autonomous cars to the public, of course—is to protect the car manufacturers against liability in the event of a malfunction or accident. If they get their way, the “driver” is more likely to be found at fault than the tech company or app maker who created the car and its systems, even if the car is technically driving itself and the “driver” merely riding in it.

Strickland and the companies he’s working with don’t share this concern, however, saying that this type of technology will make the roads less crowded and ultimately safer since the majority of accidents happen due to human error. They are hoping for a set of standards implemented at the federal level so that all laws and regulations are identical. As we are likely still many years away from seeing autonomous vehicles take over the roads, this is a case that is unlikely to have a definitive outcome in the near future. It will be interesting to watch it unfold as this emerging technology creates both new solutions to old problems and new problems to address.

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