Self-driving vehicles will soon become the norm. With that will come sweeping changes in the laws governing auto accidents and moving violations.
According to an article by Consumer Reports, Uber is currently testing automated vehicles in select cities. The time is coming sooner than you expect.
Automated Vehicles and Accidents
In a previous article, we addressed automated vehicles and accidents that will inevitably occur because of software or manufacturing problems. More specifically, the law is still trying to determine who will be responsible for damages and injuries related to such accidents. We imagine lawmakers around the country will keep busy for the foreseeable future shaping laws and determining liability among drivers, manufacturers, dealers and software engineers.
As written on Slate, automated vehicles cause complications for officers. Operating, conducting and regulating traffic stops will be confusing.
Automated Vehicles and Responsibility
With the introduction of automated vehicles is the increasing likelihood of blaming other parties. No one wants to take the blame for the vehicle’s wrongdoing, and the scenario will be easy to blame on other parties involved.
We anticipate these scenarios on the regular:
- What will give the officer the right to pull over a vehicle that is not being controlled by any specific driver, a driver who is technically not in control and thereby not breaking a law through his or her own actions?
- What will occur if an officer discovers illegal activities, such as drug use, in an automated vehicle when the initial stop was not due to driver error, rather a violation that can be attributed to vehicle error?
- Because a human technically is not in control of operating the vehicle, who is responsible for simple moving violations that may occur, such as speeding?
- If you are in an automated vehicle traveling at a set speed approaching a school zone, what happens if the vehicle continues at said speed, thereby breaking the law resulting in a moving violation for the owner of the car?
These violations will inevitably be attributed to software issues, mechanical malfunctions and specific laws related to certain cities or areas of the country. Who will take responsibility? Or, who will the law says is responsible?
Lawmakers and automobile manufacturers must determine who is responsible for any possible violations, such as:
The auto manufacturer
The independent, yet affiliated, auto dealer who sold the vehicle and provides scheduled maintenance
The independent mechanic who serviced the vehicle
Software and system designers who provide automobile manufacturers with the programs that become the “brains” of an automated vehicle
As you can see, there will plenty of blame to go around when problems with automated vehicles occur. We anticipate it will take years of discussion and quite a few “test cases” to figure out where the blame and liability will rest.
The future of automated vehicles is fast approaching and we will be keeping an eye on the development of new laws in this area. Check back often for updates as they become available.
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