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Self-driving cars face resistance on safety grounds

By Butler Prather LLP on July 5, 2017

Although many Georgia motorists might be interested in the prospect of owning vehicles that operate themselves, advocates say that the technology isn’t ready from a safety standpoint. As one government representative noted, around 2 million injuries occurred on American roads in 2016 along with more than 40,000 fatalities. While companies are working to advance driver-free technology, many lawmakers continue to be wary of the risks of turning vehicle control over to machines.

Safety advocates are also worried. Some want driverless vehicles to complete safety exams before they’re allowed to travel on the open road. These groups also note that there isn’t currently a federal safety evaluation framework in place. As it stands, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration can provide vehicle manufacturers with exemptions that let them safety test their vehicles.

NHTSA exemptions are available for automakers who can prove that their cars are safer than normal vehicles even if they fail to meet certain individual guidelines. Although the agency can only give out 2,500 exemptions annually, laws being considered by Congress would expand this number to 100,000 each year.

Even though driverless vehicle technology has the potential to reduce the likelihood of certain accidents, it also raises important questions. For instance, individuals who sustain personal injuries in wrecks that occur while their vehicles are in self-driving mode may not be able to seek insurance payouts from other involved motorists who were also letting their cars do the driving. These new devices also introduce the possibility that vehicle manufacturers who create faulty software may be liable. As technologies advance, attorneys with motor vehicle accident experience may play critical roles in helping collision victims navigate the legal aftermath.

Posted in: Car Accidents


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