Venable partner David Strickland was quoted in a March 5, 2016 Barron's article on the regulatory and liability issues facing automated vehicles. Several leading technology companies are currently experimenting with and testing automated vehicle technology. Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said a self-driving system could be viewed as a driver under existing regulations, an interpretation Strickland calls a "pretty big deal."
Strickland said the year 2020 is a "very realistic" date to see self-driving cars on the roads, though on a limited scale. "It's going to be very difficult for the Department of Transportation and the NHTSA to issue a prescriptive, pre-market regulation for automated vehicles," he added. "That's not what the agency does. But you will see, working with the states, some foundational expectations about how these systems should work." With technology companies tracking data on every move their automated vehicles make, liability questions could be easier to address down the road. "You will have real-time ability to look at what happened precrash, crash, and postcrash—at a much more detailed level," said Strickland.