Provisions in the AV START Act would have empowered manufacturers or vehicle operators to settle disputes with consumers via arbitration. Those brought objections from the American Association for Justice, a nonprofit advocacy and lobbying organization composed of trial lawyers. Frustrations linger.
"There's burnout from that and a lack of trust," said Jamie Boone, vice president of government affairs at the Consumer Technology Association. "From our perspective, we felt we got really close, and AAJ pulled the rug out from under us and kept switching positions and moving the goal posts."
Beyond disagreements about the provisions within the old proposed bill, there were growing concerns about what it omitted — namely, provisions addressing vehicles that contain Level 2 automation, those driver-assist systems in which cars can take active control of driving but human beings remain responsible for operations.
While no fully autonomous vehicles are yet on sale to the general public, cars with driver-assist systems are, and a spate of fatal crashes have been investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
"There's a groundswell of stakeholders saying, 'Wait a minute, there's a lot of concern here raised by NTSB,' and the House and Senate bills were totally silent on those issues," Kurdock said. "Level 2 was left out of the bill, and that's a serious concern, of course, when the recommendations from the preeminent safety investigator are being ignored."