The Senate Commerce Committee is working on crafting a draft proposed bill on Automated Vehicles in the Senate. The AV START Act represents a positive step forward toward the eventual integration of automated driving systems into the vehicle fleet. However, it is critically important to public safety and protection of rights guaranteed under the constitution that there be a robust savings clause that clearly protects the safety of the American public and rights guaranteed to American citizens by the seventh (7th) Amendment to the Constitution, To protect public safety and constitutional rights the following language should be added to the bill:
No preemption of common law or statutory causes of action for civil relief or criminal conduct
(A) In general
Nothing in this chapter, nor any amendment made by the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act” or the “AV START Act”, nor any standard, rule, requirement, standard of performance, risk evaluation, or scientific assessment implemented pursuant to this chapter, shall be construed to preempt, displace, or supplant any State or Federal common law rights or any State or Federal statute creating a remedy for civil relief, including those for civil damage, or a penalty for a criminal conduct.
(B) Clarification of no preemption
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, nothing in this chapter, nor any amendments made by the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act” or the “AV START Act” shall preempt or preclude any cause of action for personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, or other injury based on negligence, strict liability, products liability, failure to warn, or any other legal theory of liability under any State law, maritime law, or Federal common law or statutory theory.
This language should be non-controversial as it changes nothing in terms of longstanding constitutional rights, common law and statutory protections. General Motors has also stated publicly, in an interview with the Detroit News: “There are 100 years of legal precedent, we don’t see any reason that should be changed for Autonomous vehicles. We stand behind our product. Just like we stand behind our products we put on the road today we still stand behind our autonomous vehicles we put on the road today”