So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the lead federal regulator, has taken a hands-off approach, effectively punting many important questions to the states. Uber and other technology companies have learned to play states against one another to get more favorable regulation.
Niedermeyer is troubled by this dynamic. “You have states and cities competing with each other in order to become a hub for this new technology,” he said. “These companies hold all the cards, the local governments are doing whatever they can to attract them.”