Thursday, October 27, 2016

Atlee Hall  Attorney Jaime Jackson Discusses the National High Traffic Safety Administration Highly Automated Vehicle Guidelines

Speaking to a national audience of attorneys gathered in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 6, 2016, Atlee Hall partner, Mr. Jackson discussed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (“NHTSA”) recent publication in September of its guidelines on highly automated vehicles. Mr. Jackson outlined the new guidelines which include a “voluntary” 15 point checklist for auto manufactures. While, these guidelines are a good start, they fall far short of protecting the American Public.

Mr. Jackson stated, automated vehicles hold great safety promise and that autonomous vehicles may be the most significant technological development we’ll see in our lifetime, but at the very moment when we need the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to provide thoughtful, thorough regulatory guidance, it is ignoring its Congressional mandate and is passing the buck to the states.

Instead of providing us with one set of consistent, national regulations that prioritize transparency, safety, and accountability, Mr. Jackson said, NHTSA is pushing us into a patchwork of state-by-state rules that will create confusion when clarity is badly needed.

This exciting technology has the power to improve highway safety, but not if the automobile industry is left to its own devices. From faulty airbags to dangerous ignition switches, hidden devices to conceal exhaust levels, and malfunctioning gas pedals, auto manufacturers have a well-documented record of carelessness and negligence.

Now, because of NHTSA’s failure, auto makers will be able to duck responsibility if their autonomous vehicles malfunction and cause injury or death. Consumers will be in a horror scene from a sci-fi movie every time an autonomous vehicle is on the road.

Mr. Jackson stated, that NHTSA is making a grave mistake by failing to uphold its federal obligation to ensure transparency, safety, and accountability at this critical moment and urged them to reconsider their reckless approach immediately.

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