The U.S. House of Representatives has taken a big step today by passing a massive measure that will greatly accelerate the availability of self-driving cars on U.S. roads. The bill allows automakers to receive exemptions that will allow them to release 25,000 self-driving cars in the first year the rule applies without meeting existing safety standards. That level will increase to 100,000 per year in the following years.
The bill now moves on to the Senate, where it will likely see some revisions as advocacy groups have called for more safety provisions. However, it would be surprising to see the bill fail at this point. One major factor that has driven this bill is the stunning increase in road deaths in 2015, which saw a 7.7 percent increase that year from 2014 — the largest such increase since 1966.
Self-driving vehicles carry such potential and promise. By eliminating the human element in driving, many preventable accidents that would have normally occurred will now never happen. However, this doesn’t mean that the implementation of self-driving cars will be perfect. There are still issues at hand with self-driving cars. They still get into accidents, and there could be technical issues or malfunctions that manufacturers have not seen yet considering the limited release of these vehicles at the moment.
With more out on the road, new issues will be discovered. And in these cases, legal liability will be a new issue that officials have to grapple with.