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Safety groups urge cautious approach to self-driving cars

The Illinois House Transportation Committee approved a bill in March that paved the way for fully autonomous vehicles to use the state's streets and highways. Several auto and technology companies have vowed to bring such a vehicle to the market within five years, and this has captured the attention of the nation's lawmakers and worried some road safety advocacy groups. Organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want the regulation of self-driving cars to be dealt with at the federal level, and proponents say that a patchwork of local laws could allow unproven and potentially dangerous technology onto the roads.

Proposals dealing with autonomous vehicles are being discussed by lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Manufacturers also want clear national rules, but they are urging legislators to regulate delicately. A House Energy and Commerce panel is mulling stricter measures that would restrict autonomous vehicle testing and require companies like Google and Tesla to obtain certification for any new equipment before deploying it on public roads.

While lawmakers, advocacy groups and the business community may broadly agree, national self-driving car regulations still face serious challenges. President Trump has yet to appoint an individual to head up the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and he also ran for office on a platform of minimal government interference.

Self-driving cars offer the possibility of injury-free motoring, and car accidentattorneys will likely support measures that are designed to encourage their development. Attorneys may also use the information gathered by autonomous systems to determine what happened in the moments prior to an automobile collision.

Source: WGN9 Chicago, "Self-driving cars may be hitting the roads in Illinois if legislation passes", Janelle Jindra, March 30, 2017

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