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Federal Government Announces Legal Guidelines for Driverless Cars

By: Allan M. Siegel

Taking a big step toward the nationwide use of driverless cars, the United States Department of Transportation has announced a set of legal safety guidelines – 15 different requirements – that will establish a framework for the manufacturers of driverless cars to comply with. The legal guidelines include requirements for manufacturers to document how and where they expect their vehicles to operate, how their driverless cars will interact with other cars and the roadway, how manufacturers will validate their testing, and how manufacturers will protect user privacy and prevent hacking.

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Licensing for the use of regular cars has traditionally been performed at the state level, whereas the manufacture of regular cars has been regulated by the federal government. By taking action, the federal government is recognizing that because driverless cars don’t involve driver’s licenses at all, it makes more sense for the federal government to regulate the safety of driverless cars.

By starting down the path of formally regulating driverless cars, the federal government is eliminating legal uncertainty and reassuring driverless car manufacturers that they can produce and distribute driverless cars as long as they comply with federal rules. We at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. look forward to future legislation that will encourage the deployment of safe driverless cars, reducing deaths and injuries on the roads.