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Questions After Motor Vehicle Accidents With Self-Driving Cars

Questions After Motor Vehicle Accidents With Self-Driving Cars
Christian J. Amendt

With the rise of ride-sharing operations like Uber and Lyft throughout California and the nation, a new conversation is growing surrounding car crashes. Uber, the ubiquitous ride-sharing app, is even in the process of testing self-driving cars – but what does that mean for rates of motor vehicle accidents? A recent collision in nearby Arizona may hold some clues.

An Uber self-driving SUV crash in mid-March in a Phoenix suburb has opened the door to more questions about the implications of a fatal accident caused by these vehicles. The collision occurred when another SUV pulled out in front of the self-driving Uber vehicle, which was carrying two passengers who were testing the new technology. The Uber vehicle was flipped onto its side in the crash. After the collision, Uber suspended its self-driving car operations in San Francisco.

The future implications for fatal accidents with self-driving cars are still unclear. Insurance and regulations vary from state to state – that is why Uber has chosen Arizona as one of its target markets. That state has offered lower risk of legal liability for operators of self-driving vehicles in an effort to spark innovation. What will the cost be for everyday citizens on the road, though, if pain and suffering are caused by self-driving vehicle accidents?

These questions still remain to be answered. As we move into the future of self-driving vehicles in California, lawmakers and responsible parties need to make sure they are prepared to handle wrongful death claims related to the inevitable motor vehicle accident. Reconceptualizing the idea of a “negligent driver” may be necessary, for instance.

Legal experts will be responsible for maintaining currency on these hot-button topics as the transportation industry continues to evolve.

Source: US News, “Self-Driving Car Crash Comes Amid Debate About Regulations,” Bob Christie and Josh Hoffner, March 28, 2017

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