Self Driving Cars: Taking Human Error out of the Car Accident Equation

Brabant & Huynh, LLP

Author: Joshua Brabant

Consumer Reports recently had an article titled “The road to self-driving cars” in which they detailed the current and future technologies that are paving the pathway to totally self driving car.

A scenario they lay out as being a reality now is stated as:

“You get into your car in the morning and start to back out of the driveway. Suddenly you hear a warning sound, telling you that a vehicle coming down the street will intersect your path. Your car applies the brakes on its own while the vehicle passes harmlessly by. You continue to drive and get on the highway, then press a button, take your hands off the wheel, and reach for your coffee. The car takes over the steering, centering itself in the lane and following the vehicle ahead at a safe distance. As you reach your exit, you take back control and get off the highway. Another car cuts you off at an intersection, however, and your car immediately sounds an alert and applies the brakes, avoiding a collision. When you reach your destination, you get out of the car and press a button, and the vehicle parks itself.”

This scenario is not a fairy tale, but is now present in all of today’s “production vehicles or in prototypes being tested on public roads”. Many scientists and engineers in this field of research and expertise contend that by taking the variable of human error out of the equation, car accidents will be significantly minimized to what they would like to see go down to zero.

All of this begs the question though, when there is a car accident, who ultimately will be responsible? The driver or the vehicle? The Consumer Report Article admits that “approval of autonomous vehicles may be challenging in our legal and regulatory climate [and] the answer will be developed over time, as will the impact on insurance liability, and it may depend on the situation.” Doubtless, there will be new bodies of law formed around this new advancement in technology and many contentious cases will be litigated by lawyers, paving the way for new rules of the road to help determine liability and payment of damages when injuries do occur from car accidents.

The article concludes that “[d]espite the challenges, using leading-edge technology to replace our current system that “consists of old, poorly maintained vehicles operated by poorly trained, easily distracted, unsupervised individuals has a lot of potential for safety gains.””

If you need help with a car accident or have a liability question regarding an injury please call the car accident attorneys at Brabant & Huynh LLP at 617-934-0913. We are located in Quincy and Dorchester and we will be glad to offer you a free evaluation and ease the burden of going through the process.

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