Senate Democrats urge crackdown on autonomous vehicles and driver assist

Two prominent Senate Democrats are calling for increased scrutiny of autonomous vehicles and advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) like Tesla’s Autopilot, arguing that the unimpeded flow of highly automated vehicles on public roads in recent years risks exacerbating the traffic safety crisis in the US.

Automakers and tech companies say the technology can lead to safer streets. But there have been a number of high-profile incidents in recent years involving fully autonomous vehicles, as well as hundreds of crashes and dozens of fatalities in vehicles equipped with advanced driver-assist systems. The two senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA), argue that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s regulatory authority is at risk of being outpaced by the technology.

“We cannot allow partially automated driving systems and ADS to accelerate the road safety crisis,” they write. “NHTSA must take firm control of the wheel and steer manufacturers towards prioritizing safety.”

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