Senators weigh bill to remove obstacles to self-driving cars

WASHINGTON — A bill to clear away obstacles to a new era of self-driving cars is facing opposition from safety advocates who say it would give automakers free rein to put unsafe vehicles on the road.

A Senate panel is scheduled to take up the measure on Wednesday. It would allow automakers to apply for exemptions to current federal auto safety standards to sell up to 100,000 self-driving cars and light trucks per manufacturer per year.

Industry officials say the bill would be a boon to safety since an estimated 94 percent of crashes involve human error and have a profound impact on the lives of the disabled.

But Joan Claybrook, a former top government auto safety regulator, says the bill would turn the public into crash test dummies.

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