Imagine riding a bus with ecstatic kids in tow, and a driver out of the picture. Better yet, picture a cruise trip without a captain. While it could be decades for these visions to materialize, we cannot set aside the possibility of them actually happening. With the number of creative and imaginative technology buffs fast-rising, not to mention people’s perpetual desire to make things easier, automation is on its way to becoming main stream.
Self-driving cars laws
Applying automation to a toy is one thing, but to a vehicle is a different story. This is a matter of life and death. In anticipation of self-driving cars, four states, California, Nevada, Florida and the District of Columbia, have already laid out rules for this new trend. Legislation, however, is just the first step. These policies authorize car manufacturers to test vehicles on private roads first and public areas after that. Then, the U.S. Department of Transportation will need to set rules to allow an average car owner to operate a driverless car, when they become commercially available.
The price and safety of self-driving cars
The price of the autonomous driver system is said to be around $150,000, which Google is still working on. More than the hefty price tag, another pressing concern is road safety. Here are issues that may make or break the driverless vehicle technology:
- Cars will need to be certified instead of drivers.
- All laws assume there’s a driver behind the wheel. Does that mean we are looking to amend or draft new policies?
- For liabilities during accidents, does the driver suffer from the consequences or the manufacturer? What about calculating insurance receivables? Since it is determined based on the driver’s crash history, how will we determine liability since technically there is no driver involved?
- Nevada Rep. Marilyn Dondero Loop, who sponsored Nevada's self-driving car legislation in 2011, said, "There's a lot more to this than just a fun car." Google backs this statement up saying self-driving cars could reduce the annual 30,000 road fatalities and 2 million injuries in the United States by up to 90%!
- Will manufacturers customize vehicles according to state rules? This has been answered by the Director of Communications for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 12 large auto manufacturers, including General Motors and Toyota, Dan Gage. He said, "We can't build different cars for each state, based on different standards."
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney and a motorist myself, I am curious where these developments in autonomous driving will end up. It's be great if self-driving cars could really reduce the number of accidents per year. While we keep ourselves updated, we still need to focus on safe driving habits while we are behind the wheel. After all, we are still the drivers.