Self-driving cars have enormous potential to make transportation more convenient and save lives by cutting down on the driver errors that lead to most car crashes. But that will only happen if companies put safety first in the development, testing and deployment of these vehicles.
Sadly, that's far from the case. Tragedy struck on March 18th, when a pedestrian was hit and killed by a self-driving car that Uber was testing on a public road near Phoenix, Arizona. Why did this happen? It's in part because companies are rushing to get self-driving cars into the marketplace and bypassing basic steps to ensure these cars are safe.
Soon after the fatal Uber incident, another self-driving car company, Waymo, a Google spinoff, claimed its car would have avoided the crash. But neither Uber nor Waymo has proven the safety of their cars — instead relying on public relations campaigns and lobbying to convince policymakers and the public. We don't let new drivers out on our roads without being trained, supervised, and tested. Why aren't they doing the same for their self-driving cars?
Making matters worse, the Friday before the crash, the two companies sent a joint letter to the Senate urging lawmakers to pass a bill called the AV START Act, which would allow potentially millions of self-driving cars to be sold even if they don't fully meet federal safety rules.
We can't let these companies sidestep rules designed to keep us safe so they can make a profit faster. Tell Uber and Waymo to put safety first by publicly sharing the data needed to prove their self-driving cars are safe, and to stop lobbying to undermine safety protections.
As consumers concerned about the safety of our cars and our roads, we call on you to stop sacrificing safety in the race to corner the market for self-driving cars. These cars have the potential to increase safety and convenience, but only if we put safety first! To earn our trust, we urge you to commit both to publicly share the data needed to prove your cars are safe before putting them on our roads, and to stop lobbying for bills like the AV START Act that would undermine safety.