U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) hopes to steer a bill promoting self-driving cars to success while preventing the death of children in overheated vehicles at the same time.
Wicker this week voted to advance Senate Bill 1885, the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act. Wicker’s office said the bill will help improve roadway safety through the deployment of autonomous or self-driving cars.
The proposed legislation, which still awaits action by the full Senate, includes a provision, co-sponsored by Wicker, that would require auto makers to equip cars with technology that alerts drivers when a child is left in the back seat once the car is turned off.
“The future of autonomous vehicles is quickly becoming a reality,” Wicker said. “As Congress works to develop federal policies for the safe use of these vehicles on our roads, ensuring that our children are protected from heat stroke should be a part of that discussion. I am pleased that the committee recognizes the importance of installing sensors in cars to let drivers know when a child has been left in the back seat. This is a sensible solution that will help save lives.”
The bill also requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to contract with an independent third party to study options for retrofitting existing vehicles with technology that would address the problem of children being left behind in vehicles.
Mississippi leads the nation in the number of deaths of children in parked cars per capita. Seventeen Mississippi children have died in parked cars since 1998. Nationwide, heat stroke in vehicles has claimed the lives of 729 children over the past 19 years. Most of the deaths were accidental, with parents or caregivers simply forgetting about the child in the back seat.
Google has been working on developing self-driving cars since 1999. The company spun off a new company, called Waymo, to continue the research. The Toyota Research Institute has been designing a smart car of its own. It has two steering wheels to allow for a smoother transfer of control from a human driver to the computerized system.
Self-Driving Cars Get Support From Sen. Roger Wicker
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