Monday, August 15, 2016

Atlee Hall Attorney Jaime Jackson Interviewed by The Legal Intelligencer on Autonomous Vehicles

Atlee Hall attorney, Jaime Jackson was recently interviewed in The Legal Intelligencer on Autonomous Vehicles and the role of the Federal Government, through, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) in enacting safety regulations.  Thus far, the NHTSA has abrogated its responsibilities in regulating the safety of autonomous vehicles and crash avoidance technologies, having yet to enact any safety regulations, and instead raising the possibility, that for now, the NHTSA may defer to the states in the regulation of autonomous vehicles, possibly publishing guidelines and model state regulations, rather than uniform federal regulations. Mr. Jackson raised the possibility that should the NHTSA defer to the states this may create the possibility of a hodge podge of different state regulations, resulting in potential for less protection of the public in some states.

Mr. Jackson has been pushing the need for accountability and responsibility when it comes to implementing autonomous vehicle safety technologies.  We are all in favor of new computer-aided/autonomous-vehicle technologies that save lives. We have been at the forefront challenging car companies to improve the safety of their products with smart seat belts, airbags and improved rollover protection. But new vehicle features can have unintended consequences, and that’s why there must be accountability on the part of the multi-billion dollar corporations implementing these changes. As more and more consumers are attracted to buy new vehicles advertised with improved safety features, manufacturers will reap the economic benefits. It is, however, inevitable that the imperfect efforts of the auto industry will lead to some serious flaws and injury. The traditional counter-balance between the advent of improvements in motor vehicles and consumer protectionism requires that these major corporations be accountable for the damages caused – not the consumers who’ve purchased vehicles with faulty technology or our state and federal governments already burdened with the huge cost of medical care. In this country, our economic and civil justice systems remain the primary motivators to assure consumers that safety takes precedents over profit.

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