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Illustration:Aïda Amer/Axios

When we turn control over our lives to others, we expect there to be rules that keep us safe. But we're far from having any in place around autonomous vehicles. So it's no surprise that a recent AAA study found 73% of Americans are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving car.

Where it stands: Automakers and tech companies are lobbying for a bill in the Senate, the AV START Act, that would allow millions of self-driving vehicles to come on the market that are exempt from existing federal rules while requiring no new ones to ensure autonomous vehicles are safer than the cars we have today — a system where 37,133 people died on U.S roads last year.

Context: Commercial air travel is carefully regulated and the FAA is funded at $17 billion a year, helping to make airline fatalities extremely rare in the U.S. However, the agency in charge of auto safety, NHTSA, has a budget of less than $1 billion and only voluntary guidelines to make sure self-driving cars are safe before they hit the road.

What’s needed: Consumers deserve strong protections that are missing from the bills before Congress.

  • Minimum performance standards for computer perception, cybersecurity and automation-induced driver distraction for partially automated and fully self-driving cars
  • Strong privacy rules and sharing of safety data with regulators, investigators and researchers
  • Accessibility and safety for all disability communities
  • Public information about vehicles' safety, capabilities and limitations
  • State and local authority to limit the deployment of AVs until these federal rules are in place

The bottom line: Federal law already allows extensive testing on public roads. Instead of rushing forward to undermine current rules, Congress should increase NHTSA’s budget and direct them to put strong regulations in place.

David Friedman is vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports and a former acting administrator of NHTSA.

Go deeper

6th victim dies following South Carolina shooting

Jack Logan, founder of Put Down the Guns Young People, places stuffed animals and flowers outside of Riverview Family Medicine and Urgent Care on Friday after the fatal shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a day earlier. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

The only survivor of this week's mass shooting in South Carolina by former NFL player Phillip Adams has died of his injuries, authorities said Saturday.

Details: Robert Shook, 38, an air conditioning technician from Cherryville, North Carolina, died of gunshot wounds from Wednesday's shooting at a doctor's home in Rock Hill, S.C., which claimed the lives of five other victims.

3 hours ago - World

In photos: Egypt unveils 3,000-year-old "lost golden city"

A view on Saturday of the city, dubbed "The Rise of Aten," dating to the reign of Amenhotep III, uncovered near Luxor. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images

A top Egyptian archaeologist on Saturday outlined details of a newly rediscovered "lost golden city" near Luxor that dates back more than 3,000 years.

Why it matters: Zahi Hawass told NBC News the large ancient city, unveiled Thursday, tells archaeologists for the first time "about the life of the people during the Golden Age." Johns Hopkins University Egyptology professor Betsy Brian said in a statement it's "the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamen."

1 dead as severe storms pummel the South

A tree that fell on a home carport damaged a vehicle during a storm in Central, Louisiana. No injuries were reported, according to Central Fire Department. Photo: Central Fire Department/Twitter

Strong storms lashed the South early Saturday, spawning at least one tornado and unleashing powerful winds and hail. And forecasters warned more severe weather was expected to hit parts of the region in the coming hours.

Details: Thousands of customers lost power in Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, according to tracking site poweroutage.us. An F3 tornado that hit St Landry Parish, Louisiana, killed one person and wounded seven others.