THE OMBUDSMAN ALERT: Hit the Pause Button on the Driverless Car Bill!



The Ombudsman Alert, in a series of three previous articles on driverless vehicles, dated November 10, 2016, March 16, 2017 and October 12, 2017, detailed a diverse coalition of leading state and national stakeholders representing auto safety, public health, law enforcement and various consumer groups to monitor the progress of the US Senate bill, S.1885.the AV START ACT, which seeks to create the policy for introducing driverless vehicles on a large-scale basis on the roads and highways of the U.S.

We are now asking the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to “back off plans to move the AV START ACT, that would set driverless policy for decades to come, until the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) completes important investigations into recent crashes involving automated driving systems that have killed two people-including a pedestrian walking a bicycle.”

It is critical to note here that the Ombudsman Alert, on October 4, 2017, was an active contributor, along with spokespersons from a number of nationwide auto safety organizations, to a coast-to-coast conference call which produced suggestions to improve the existing proposed legislation comprising the senate bill S.1885.

All of these improvements were, in fact, adopted the very next day by the U.S. Senate Committee as reported by Ombudsman Alert in our article in this column dated October 12, 2017.

Unfortunately, however, these improvements, while critical, were not sufficient to avoid the deadly crashes discussed above!

The Senate was expected to return from recess on Monday, May 7, and during the next couple of weeks is expected to consider S.1405, Re-Authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA). It is possible that the AV START Act will be attached to this bill, potentially precluding any debate or amendments to the AV START Act

In the words of our coalition:

“Attempts to advance this bill and bypass the legislative process, especially before having critical information from the NTSB would be reckless at best and deadly at worst.”

The Ombudsman Alert urges our readers to e-mail or write to our two U.S. Senators to voice their opposition to advance such a vital bill until it has received the approval of the NTSB.

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