Ombudsman Alert: Ombudsman participates in national conference call of consumer leaders to urge congress to fix major shortcomings with driverless car legislation and not attach it to the FAA Bill


By Dr. Louis Alpert

This current article addresses the issue of the deception at the Federal Level to hide away a provision to unleash millions of driverless autos on America’s highways, without first fixing the major shortcomings in the proposed legislation by merely attaching it to a Vital FAA Bill. That way, the two issues will receive one single vote from the US Senate without separate consideration of the provisions of the driverless auto legislation.

Ombudsman Alert was greatly honored to participate with National Auto Safety and consumer groups and others in a coast-to-coast conference call held on Monday, July 23, 2018, to advise the United States Senate how to correct the major shortcomings in the current proposed legislation before rushing to couple it together with a totally unrelated FAA bill—which MUST be voted into law in the immediate future!

The driverless car legislation certainly deserves to be considered on its own merits, apart from the FAA bill, and MUST be given the chance to be corrected and improved by the suggestions of the nationally-based consumer and safety groups and experts in automation participating in this coast-to-coast conference call.

The following statement summarizes the results of our July 23rd conference call:

“Today, leading safety, consumer and bicycling advocates, law enforcement and tech and automation experts urged the U.S. Senate to add critical safeguards to the AV START ACT (S.1885), a bill that will set policy on autonomous vehicles (AV’s), also known as driverless cars, for decades to come. As early as this week, sponsors of the bill could attempt to ‘give it a ride’ on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act (S.1405). This brazen attempt to rush the AV START ACT and enable mass deregulation of AV’s comes as a new ORC International public opinion poll released today, which finds that 69 percent of Americans are concerned about their safety when sharing the road with driverless vehicles as motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.”

“Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has several open investigations into crashes of vehicles equipped with automated technology including the fatal crash in Tempe, AZ Eighty-four percent of Americans want Congress to wait for the NTSB to complete crash investigations before acting on driverless car legislation.”

Ombudsman Alert was privileged to share this National Conference Call with many distinguished individuals, which included:

Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Linda Bailey, Executive Director, National Association of City Transportation Officials; Joan Claybrook, Former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and President Emeritus of Public Citizen; Dr. Mica R. Endsley, President of USA Technologies and Former Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force; Jack Gillis, Executive Director of the Consumer federation of America; Dr. Shaun Kildare, Director of Research of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety; Ken McLeod, Policy Director of the League of American Bicyclists; and William Wallace, Senior Policy Analyst for Consumers Union.

The critical suggestions offered by the participants in this conference call to the U.S. Senate included the need for far greater safety testing for the driverless vehicles, especially with regard to their interactions with pedestrians and bicyclists and much better prevention from possible cyber attacks, which are far more likely and dangerous for driverless vehicles.

Ombudsman Alert will continue to participate with all of the above-mentioned consumer and auto safety leaders until we can convince the members of the U.S. Senate to slow down and listen to our appeal to correct the shortcomings in their current bill for the AV START ACT, and certainly not tie it into the passage of the instantly needed FAA Legislation.

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