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Hurdles involved in regulating driverless car safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that there are some obstacles that it must clear up before it can develop permanent safety standards for self-driving cars. The agency plans to make the notice public by the end of November. Thus, New York motorists will have to wait a while before self-driving cars become readily available.

In early October, a Senate committee approved a bill giving the NHTSA power to grant waivers to automakers for up to 80,000 self-driving cars produced every year in the next three years. This means that automakers need not meet all safety guidelines; the result is a speeding up of the production and testing process. The NHTSA is also responsible for writing new safety regulations for such vehicles.

The problem is that research will need to be conducted before the NHTSA can decide if it should rewrite existing regulations, of which there are close to 75, or eliminate some altogether. Such research could take years to complete, which explains why the agency is asking for further input. Advocates of the bill are also pushing Congress to act, while some auto safety groups, on the other hand, believe that there is a worrisome lack of safeguards.

In the meantime, human negligence contributes to more and more car crashes each year, as drivers become distracted by phones, touchscreen systems, and other technology. Victims of such accidents often need to have extensive and expensive medical treatment, and many are unable to return to work during their recovery period. A personal injury attorney can often assist in seeking appropriate compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company.

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