The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fed Government Makes Way for Self-Driving Cars

Are self-driving cars safer than traditional automobiles?

Once a thing of science fiction, self-driving vehicles are today widely regarded as the next generation of cars.  In a recent listening session held by the United States Department of Transportation, the federal government made it clear that they would not stand in the way of the development of autonomous vehicles.  As mega companies like Google continue to push forward in their quest to create a self-driving vehicle that could eventually be sold to consumers, drivers everywhere should give thought to what a future of self-driving cars could look like and whether these vehicles will reduce automobile accident rates.  

Government Vows Not to Infringe Innovation 

During the listening session, the government adopted a stance embracing the development of self-driving vehicles.  Ideas for law or policies were largely shot down as they could serve as an impediment to technology.  Thus far, the government has only issued a voluntary safety assessment that it encouraged vehicle manufacturers to meet.  The government’s overall attitude towards acceptance of self-driving technologies likely indicates its belief that these technologies will eventually become commonplace.  It may further indicate a belief that autonomous vehicles are a safe option for drivers.

Self-Driving Vehicles and Safety 

Human error is the number one cause of car accidents.  Self-driving vehicles eliminate the human element in driving, which should equate to far fewer accidents.  Testing on autonomous vehicles seems to indicate that these vehicles are extremely safe.  Thus far, Google’s self-driving vehicles have traveled more than 1.8 million miles.  In all of this time on the road, Google vehicles have been involved in just 13 minor accidents.  Even further, none of these accidents were deemed the fault of the self-driving vehicle. 
Preliminary data from self-driving vehicle companies paints a positive picture for the automotive safety industry.  If autonomous vehicles become the car of the future, it seems likely that accident rates will reduce significantly.  Even still, as consumers transition from human driven vehicles to computer driven models, accidents will continue.  Accidents between self-driving cars and human driven vehicles will raise interesting liability issues.  Personal injury attorneys will need to prepare to navigate the legal complexities of an autonomous driving future.

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