A bill approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in early October has given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a decade in which to write permanent safety regulations for self-driving cars. Michigan motorists should know that it could be years before they see such vehicles on the roads. The NHTSA has stated in a report, which it will make public by the end of November, that it requires more input from organizations regarding the type of research it should conduct.
As there are currently close to 75 auto safety regulations, many of which will be incompatible with self-driving cars, the NHTSA has the choice between revising some guidelines and throwing out others. This has led to hurdles in the development of new regulations. Moreover, the research may take several years to complete.
The main purpose of the Senate bill was to speed up the production and testing of self-driving vehicles. To this end, it will grant exemptions to automakers to deploy up to 80,000 such vehicles annually in the next three years. The ability for automakers to bypass certain regulations has raised some concern among auto safety groups. Corporations like Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Alphabet Inc. had lobbied for the legislation.
Still, people must be responsible when behind the wheel, and when they cause car accidents because they act irresponsibly, the victims have a right to damages. Lawyers can hire accident reconstruction experts, investigators, and other third parties to build up the case. Lawyers can also handle negotiations with insurance companies, and if they fail to reach an agreeable settlement, they can take their clients' cases to court, seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and vehicle damage.