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What should be done to make self-driving cars safe?

self-driving car.jpegSelf-driving car makers have every reason to plow full-speed ahead toward a profitable future when U.S. roads are clogged with autonomous, driverless vehicles. However, can we expect driverless vehicle makers to safely self-regulate when they have so much to profit from getting their cars on the road?

After a fatal accident in Arizona last month -- in which an autonomous vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian -- many people are asking questions about whether the self-driving technology is ready for testing in real traffic conditions.

A new law could help regulate the driverless car industry

In 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a proposed bill called the Self Drive Act. A companion bill known as the AV Start Act has also made its way through the Senate Commerce Committee. It's currently waiting for Senate consideration. Both of these bills seek to clarify the role that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will play as the primary regulator of self-driving vehicles.

One issue of concern is the fact that some self-driving car manufacturers have safer technology than others. For example, Uber has struggled to get their autonomous cars to travel more than 13 miles without driver intervention, whereas the Alphabet Inc. Waymo cars can travel an average of 5,600 miles without driver intervention. In fact, Alphabet recently claimed that its technology is so advanced that an incident like the death caused by the Uber car in Arizona would not happen with one of its vehicles.

Manufacturers and others in favor of driverless vehicles don't want this growing technology to get stalled by regulations. While others want to slow development down and make the cars safer before putting them on the roads.

Car accident liability and self-driving cars

Following a vehicle accident involving an autonomous car, it is tough to figure out who is responsible. The NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board came to different conclusions after a Tesla driver died in an accident while on autopilot in 2016.

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