U.S. Safety Regulators Pumping the Brakes on Self-Driving Technology

There a few speed bumps that innovators and manufacturers of self-driving cars are going to face before they become mainstream, and it appears one of those will be the government. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx said that he would like to see government regulators and the auto industry work closely together to vigorously test the safety standards of autonomous vehicles before people entrust their safety in the car. 

Tesla Car Crash

The Detroit News reported that Foxx told about 1,200 people at a self-driving convention in San Francisco that robotic controls need to be reviewed more to make sure the DOT and manufacturers are “in sync” before the vehicles hit the road. “This could help assure consumers that the vehicles that they are getting into are stress tested." Foxx also warned automakers to assume drivers will be tempted to take foolish risks while on the road when they activate the autonomous features in a car, which makes it extremely important to design vehicles that minimize the opportunity for disaster. “Sometimes the coolness of technology may drive people to try to push the limits of what the manufacturers intended,” Foxx explained. 

Autonomous Car Crash Lawyer

Self-Driving technology has come under some pressure as of late. Three weeks prior to Foxx’s remarks, Joshua Brown of Canton, Ohio died in May after his Tesla crashed into a truck while using a semi-autonomous feature called “Autopilot.” Brown died after neither he nor the Autopilot feature braked for a truck which was making a left turn near a highway, according to Tesla and federal investigators. Many are pointing to Brown’s death as a prime example of why self-driving cars are simply not ready to go out on the streets. “Autopilot’s failure is a poster child for why enforceable safety standards are needed, not useless voluntary guidelines,” Joan Claybrook of Consumer Watchdog wrote in a letter to Tesla. 

Tesla has consistently defended it’s self-driving features, citing that Brown’s crash was the first death in more than 130 million miles of driving with the Autopilot feature activated. Even with more testing, Foxx is doubtful that self-driving cars will eliminate all accidents. The goal, he stated, is an 80% reduction in the frequency of accidents, which are mostly caused by human error or negligence. Foxx has said that he plans to propose federal government guidelines for self-driving vehicles later this summer, and self-driving cars are still being tested in several states. 


Self-Driving cars aren't predicted to be the norm on the roads for another decade or two, so it's important that drivers are always aware and paying attention to the road. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will work with you to identify the help you need as they work towards settling your case. If a settlement can't be reached, our team is ready to take your case to court. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.