When it comes to driving, the future is here. Self-driving technology is becoming more and more popular. It is estimated that by 2020, more than 10 million self-driving cars will be on our roads.
Today, many cars are equipped with self-driving features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, and lane keep assist. As the technology continues to advance and driverless cars become more common, many questions will arise. One obvious question is that of vehicle safety and liability after an autonomous vehicle accident.
Self-driving cars have many safety advantages over human-driven cars. For example, distracted driving, careless driving, drunk driving, and inexperience contribute to the hundreds of thousands of traffic accidents that occur every year in the United States. But self-driving cars are not without their risks. While self-driving cars do not become drunk or distracted like human drivers, there are still many types of mishaps that can occur.
In fact, there have already been several autonomous vehicle accidents. In March, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian who was crossing the street. Two other accidents occurred earlier in 2018, one involving a Tesla car running into a fire engine, and another one involving a GM vehicle colliding with a motorbike. Both vehicles were operating in autonomous mode, reportedly.
So who is responsible for an accident involving or caused by a self-driving vehicle?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Every case is different, and must be thoroughly investigated. Currently, most newer vehicles with self-driving features require engagement from the driver, so there may be cases in which a driver was not paying attention while operating self-driving features. Furthermore, autonomous vehicles are equipped with multiple sensors, cameras, and other features that may assist in the investigation of the accident.
As we move closer to a time when self-driving vehicles become the norm, questions of liability and responsibility in accidents will continue to arise. In the meantime, human drivers should stay focused and attentive while driving.