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NHTSA weighs in on driverless cars

Published on Feb 18, 2016 at 3:14 pm in Car Accidents.

Maryland residents have likely read about the autonomous vehicles being developed by technology companies like Google and car makers like Volvo and Tesla. Gaining regulatory approval for self-driving cars in all 50 states has been seen as one of the chief challenges facing these companies, but a letter sent to Google by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Feb. 4 indicates that the federal government at least seems ready to embrace the technology.

While Google made the letter public by posting it on its website, the technology giant did not immediately respond. The letter explains how safety regulations have been implemented in the past with only people in mind, and the artificial intelligence technology that allows autonomous vehicles to function could be viewed in the same way as human drivers when new rules are being considered in the future. It is hoped that this kind of attitude will make the transition to self-driving cars easier and smooth the road to regulatory approval across the country.

Many safety experts believe that the widespread use of autonomous vehicles could drastically reduce motor vehicle accident injuries and fatalities, but self-driving cars may not sell in large numbers unless prices can be kept affordable. The NHTSA seems to understand this, but the agency points out that it will take some time to exempt autonomous vehicles from regulations, such as the mandatory installation of a foot-operated brake pedal, that do not apply to them.

Maryland residents concerned about the safety of self-driving vehicles may wish to remember that the overwhelming majority of car accidents involve human error of one type or another. Artificial intelligence technology may one day make car accident lawsuits a relic of the past, but personal injury attorneys will continue to be called upon to pursue civil remedies on behalf of car accident victims in the meantime.

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