The U.S. House of Representatives made a unanimous decision recently, a rarity in these politically divisive times. Last week, the House passed a new measure that will allow auto manufacturers to release 25,000 self-driving cars per year out on U.S. roads even if they don't meet safety standards that other vehicles must pass before being deployed. The measure is meant to accelerate the rise of self-driving cars and, ultimately, reduce the number of car accidents out on the road.
The number of autonomous vehicles auto makers can release each year will rise to 100,000 per year over time. The measure will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to be changed given the criticism safety advocates have lobbed at the measure.
Lawmakers are feeling pressure to reduce the number of auto fatalities on U.S. roads after the disastrous statistics of 2015 were released. In that year, there was a 7.7 percent increase in the number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. when compared to 2014. That's the largest increase in traffic fatalities year-over-year in the U.S. since 1966. In addition, a 2014 study found that traffic accidents cause $836 billion in costs every year, and that 94 percent of these accidents are due to human error. Self-driving cars could, and should, dramatically cut back on these accidents.
Still, there will be a period after self-driving cars are widely released where other types of accidents are caused and unforeseen issues with autonomous vehicles will be discovered. Determining liability in this unknown world of self-driving vehicles will be critical.
Source: Reuters, "U.S. House unanimously approves sweeping self-driving car measure," David Shepardson, Sept. 6, 2017