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Monday, 11 June 2018 18:21

Tap the Brakes on Rolling Out Unregulated Driverless Cars in FL

Written by Dale Swope, Florida Justice Association
Dale Swope, president of the Florida Justice Association and managing partner of Swope Rodante, P.A. in Tampa Dale Swope, president of the Florida Justice Association and managing partner of Swope Rodante, P.A. in Tampa


Crashes involving driverless cars have raised significant safety questions. In March, an Uber driverless car struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian. The NTSB said the system never engaged the brakes in spite of seeing the victim six seconds before the crash. 

People are justifiably concerned. 

An American Automobile Association (AAA) survey shows 73 percent of American drivers are too afraid to ride in a driverless car---up from 63 percent in late 2017. The AAA survey also found the percentage of millennial drivers too afraid to ride in a driverless car jumped from 49 percent to 64 percent since late 2017. 

This is a public safety issue. Apparently, the corporate patrons of Florida’s driverless car legislative caucus see this as a public relations problem. 

This technology carries great promise to reduce traffic deaths, but we must maintain critical safety standards to carefully develop and safely deploy the concept. 

The corporations want deregulation of driverless cars. 

Their sales pitch for: 

A “pro-business and pro-autonomous regulatory climate” translates to lawmakers eliminating critical accountability and liability laws. 

A “statewide regulatory framework” over local regulations means Tallahassee knows best when it comes to saying what kind of vehicles can operate in your neighborhood. 

“Opening up public roads, infrastructure, and communities to early adoption” of this technology is code for “Robots, start your engines.” 

They want Florida to effectively subsidize automakers and tech companies with public roads used by our 20 million residents and 116 million visitors. Floridians carry all the risk, yet receive nothing in return---no commitment to build the vehicles here and no jobs created. 

In Florida, we are on the cusp of an unregulated free-for-all for driverless cars. Already, driverless cars do not have to carry liability insurance in Florida. A driverless delivery truck (with a human passenger) could speed through a school zone with no accountability and hit a child without having to stop to help. 

We must update our laws to be prepared for this technology. 

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