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What are Self-Driving Cars and Are They Safe?
Self-driving cars, also known as autonomous vehicles, are run by an intricate system of cameras, software, and sensors that work together to build a map of the area which allows the vehicle to safely navigate through. This technology has only been seen in movies and science fiction until recently. Very soon, driverless cars may be part of our everyday reality.
Until we reach that point, however, they are being tested on our streets with mixed results. Technology companies like Google, Uber, Tesla, and Nissan are currently leading the way to try to make driving safer for all. These vehicles will help avoid common human error, like drunk driving and distracted driving. It certainly has the potential to bring remarkable change but, while it’s still in its infancy stage, these vehicles are not fully “safe” yet.
For example, self-driving test cars are involved in accidents at five times the rate of traditional passenger vehicles, and a 49-year-old woman was recently killed in Arizona from being struck by a self-driving car. Clearly, there is much that needs to be fixed.
As with any technology, there is the potential of software glitches, hacking, and malware which may cause an accident in the future. Until these companies can guarantee the safety of driverless cars, there will be accidents that occur. If you are injured in a self-driving car accident — now or in the future — it is crucial to understand your rights.
Self-Driving Car Laws
Self driving car laws are still pending in many states across the country. As autonomous technologies continue to develop, more legislation will be passed to establish the protocols for road legality and driverless accident liability.
One area of particular interest is “truck platooning,” which is when two trucks electronically link up in order to follow each other at a distance much closer than what is considered legal. The self-driving aspect of these trucks would allow companies to cut labor costs and increase fuel efficiency, therefore, many of them are looking to capitalize — sometimes at the expense of the innocent public. Fleet-driving like this will be seen on our roads before self-driving vehicles go on sale to the public, which is why states across the country are currently choosing to either closely regulate the act of platooning or outlaw it altogether. If you are involved in a collision with a platooning truck, contact a truck accident attorney in St. Louis at The Hayden Law Firm.
Overall, the Self Drive Act lays out responsibilities this industry must follow, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the governing body over this emergent industry. Eventually, all 50 states will need clear-cut laws on all aspects of autonomous vehicles before they are officially on our roads.
Who is Liable in a Self-Driving Accident?
Self-driving car accidents are a brand new territory of liability and personal injury law. As there is not a person driving the vehicle, it would potentially become a matter of product liability. For example, the most likely reason a self-driving car caused an accident would be due to a flaw in its design, software programming, failed sensor, defective part, lack of maintenance, or an infrastructure problem. If this is the case, then a lawsuit may be brought against:
- The designer(s) of the self-driving vehicle
- Self-driving vehicle manufacturer
- Vehicle distributor
- Assembling manufacturer
- Parts supplier
- A city, state, or federal entity
If you ever find yourself the victim of a self-driving car accident, there is no question that you will need a St. Louis product liabilty lawyer to navigate the uncharted waters.