Back in March, we told you about an accident that occurred when a self-driving car collided with a public bus. One of Google’s automated vehicles collided with a public bus when attempting to navigate an obstruction in the road. The car’s human driver believed that the bus would yield, and the vehicle’s software did not perceive a likely collision. Fortunately nobody was injured. Another crash occurred in California in May. However, this accident, involving a Tesla Model S vehicle that is believed to have been on autopilot, resulted in the death of the automated car’s human driver.
It has been reported that the ‘driver’ of the Tesla engaged the vehicle’s autopilot feature while on the highway. He was reportedly watching a movie while his car drove. According to Tesla’s report, the vehicles sensor system could not distinguish a white 18-wheel truck against the bright sky. As a result, the car attempted to navigate directly through the vehicle while running at full speed.
The technology behind automated vehicles continues to develop. Cars are getting smarter and capable of responding more intelligently to the situation around them. However, despite any advances in technology with respect to self-driving cars, there still remains serious public policy and legal concerns. Lawmakers must determine if self-driving cars are capable of safely navigating roadways and consider what risk to the public they pose.
Additionally, there is a question of how to apportion blame or fault for damages resulting from a collision involving an automated vehicle. Drivers of automated vehicles are expected to remain alert to the roadways and take control if necessary. It is possible to be convicted of careless driving even if you are not driving a motor vehicle. A St. Catharines woman faced charges of Careless Driving after pulling on the steering wheel of a car driven by her boyfriend. It is possible that charges related to automated cars could follow a similar path, with the human driver who engaged the autopilot being held responsible for what that vehicle does on the roadway even though the human driver would not have executed the maneuver leading the accident.
We will be looking out for developments in this area and how it will affect claims arising from car accidents. In the meantime, if you’ve been injured in a car accident contact one of the personal injury lawyers at Daniel & Partners LLP. We offer a free initial consultation for personal injury matters, including those involving car accidents. Our personal injury lawyers will ensure that their clients have access to all resources necessary to recover from their injuries.