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“Who’s liable in self-driving car accidents?”

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2019 | Uncategorized

California is always on the edge of new technology and driverless cars are no exception.

California-based companies Uber, Apple and Tesla and more are all developing self-driving automobiles. In fact, in 2018 Google subsidiary Waymo received the first permit to test cars without a driver on public streets and highways. But new technology comes with new problems.

New tech, new challenges

Last year, was killed when she was struck by a self-driving Uber SUV in Tempe, Arizona. The SUV, a modified Volvo XC90, had a backup human driver, but the distracted driver was not able to react in time to prevent the accident.

Uber immediately suspended testing of self-driving cars after the accident. When Uber finally returned autonomous vehicles to the street more than six months later, they did so at reduced speeds and under less challenging conditions.

Legal questions raised

A video from inside the SUV at the time of the crash showed the driver watching a TV show on her phone while she should have been monitoring the road. Police determined from the video that she only had her eyes on the road about 32% of the time during the 22-minute test drive.

The accident raised the question of who’s liable when a self-driving car causes an injury or death. Is it the distracted driver? Is it the car manufacturer? Could the city be liable for unsafe conditions? While there may not be an easy answer today, it will be crucial to determine who is responsible as we start seeing more of these vehicles on the road.

Future of driverless vehicles

California already has in place some regulations for the launch of commercial driverless vehicles once they have completed testing.

After receiving a safety certificate from the DMV, operators of the vehicles must prove they have at least $5 million in assets or liability insurance in case of an accident. They must also report where their cars will be driving.

Each vehicle must have data recording system – like an airplane’s “black box” – and they must show that they are defending the car against cybersecurity attacks.

Finally, makers of self-driving vehicles must provide consumers with education materials highlighting how to disengage self-driving mode and identifying any restrictions the car has.

Safety and liability

Though safety is always the main concern on the roadways, it is also important to also have laws that HYPERLINK “/Car-Accidents/” determine liability in the event of an accident. No one can predict how future technologies will develop, but both the courts and society must plan for and adapt to whatever comes.