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Liability and Driverless Cars


Thousands of people die every single year from automobile accidents, mostly due to human error.  Common causes of these automobile accidents are reckless driving, speeding, and distracted driving.  Car manufacturers have been working for years to help decrease the number of deaths caused by car crashes by implementing things such as air bags, seat belts, tire pressure monitors, etc.  All of these new technologies have helped prevent more death and injury and keep drivers and passengers more safe.  Despite all of these features that have been added to automobiles to make them more safe, accidents still happen, and the driver or passenger who caused the accident is almost always held liable for the accident.

With new advances in technology, the age of driverless cars has just begun.  Companies such as Tesla, Google, Apple, etc. have been testing and releasing driverless cars to the public.  While the future of driverless cars is bright, as of now there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the idea of completely automated cars.  The cars currently released into the automotive market are not completely driverless, but do have auto pilot mode that only work on the highway, rather than in urban areas.  With these cars increasing in popularity, there has been a big debate on who should be held liable in the result of a crash.  In the past, whoever caused the crash was held liable by insurance companies for the crash, but with automated vehicles, the lines begin to blur between who should be held responsible for accidents.  It is possible to hold the car company responsible for a malfunction in the cars driving abilities.  But, since cars are not fully driverless yet, some fault could be placed on the driver.  It could be due to a lack of understanding of the cars features, inattention to the road or other cars, or even a misuse of the auto pilot feature in the car.  Since insurance is state regulated, it may become difficult to create a uniform set of rules that can help regulate these types of issues among automated vehicles.  The car manufacturers who may begin to find themselves liable for accidents caused by their vehicles are beginning to push for uniform nationwide laws on how to regulate these vehicles and how insurance companies should tackle future accidents involving these vehicles.  There is no one solution to this new, arising, problem, but companies must work together with the government and its consumers in order to ensure everyone’s safety.


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