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Lawmakers seek to rein in autonomous vehicle testing

Leading figures in the technology sector and many road safety advocates say that car accidents in Kentucky and around the country could eventually be a thing of the past thanks to self-driving cars, but the speed at which autonomous vehicle technology is being developed and deployed has alarmed some lawmakers. Measures being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would require car manufacturers to certify their autonomous systems before testing them on public roads, and it would also place limits on the number of self-driving cars that can be tested at any given time.

Bills dealing with autonomous vehicle technology are being considered in both the Senate and House, and road safety groups like Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety are concerned about systems that have not been properly tested being made available to the public. There are currently no federal guidelines in place for self-driving cars, and manufacturers like Google, Apple and Ford tend to test their autonomous vehicles in states like California and Florida that allow self-driving cars to be on public roads.

Automakers would also prefer clear federal rules over a patchwork of state legislation, but they want lawmakers to regulate judiciously. However, many analysts feel little will be done until President Trump appoints a new head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Several car makers have vowed to bring a fully autonomous vehicle to market within five years, and Ford and General Motors have pledged big amounts of money to develop self-driving systems.

Personal injury attorneys who have represented car accident victims will likely be aware of the catastrophic damage that negligent motorists can cause, and they would likely support measures designed to remove human error from the driving equation. Road users injured in accidents caused by such drivers are often left unable to return to work, and attorneys may seek damages to cover their lost income as well as their medical bills and other expenses.

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