Progress made on regulations for driverless cars

Drivers in Louisiana and throughout the country may be one step closer to sharing the roads with self-driving vehicles. A Feb. 4 letter to Google from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that under federal law, the artificial intelligence system could be considered the driver of an autonomous car.

There are still a number of other considerations to be worked out. Legal questions as well as state and federal regulations must be dealt with. For example, regulations require cars to have braking systems that are activated with the foot. Google must demonstrate that its driverless system meets the same standard. Similarly, the car's computer must be informed the same way a driver would be about tire pressure running low. It is not yet clear whether humans should be informed as well.

Another consideration is whether a licensed driver will need to be in the cars and whether or not it will be possible for a human to take over controls. Google is concerned that this might actually make the vehicles less safe. The NHTSA has expressed a willingness to assist in speeding up development by possibly waiving some safety regulations.

Many experts predict that self-driving cars will greatly increase road safety. However, it will still be some time before testing and development is complete, and until then, vehicle accidents will continue to be a significant cause of injury and death in the United States. Motorcycle riders are particularly vulnerable to catastrophic injuries in vehicle collisions because they do not have the body of a vehicle around them for protection. Drivers may also be more prone to accidents with motorcyclists because they do not see them or drive more carelessly around them than they would another car. A motorcyclist who is injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another motorist may want meet with an attorney to learn about how best to seek compensation for the losses that have been incurred.

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