Technology is constantly changing. Just twenty years ago households were
purchasing their first cordless phones and DVD players. Now 12 year olds
have mobile phones that can stream any movie from anywhere instantly.
Our cars are no different. While
auto accidents still claim far too many lives, advances like the seatbelt and airbags
have saved many. Now various companies are working on a whole new automotive
technology--driverless cars. The hope and the theory is that by eliminating
human error and recklessness, these cars will make our roads safer. Soon
these vehicles will take to the road. The question then becomes, when
one of these vehicles eventually causes an accident, who will be to blame?
Driverless Crash Trucks About to Take to the Road
Driverless cars have gotten a lot of news coverage in the last year, but
they typically seem like a technology that is still a ways away for most
Americans. However, according to a report by
CBC News, certain driverless trucks are going to take to the road in Florida by
the end of the year. Mobile construction crews, like those who paint the
lines on roads, typically include at least two vehicles. There is the
vehicle that is doing the actual construction work, and then there is
a vehicle that follows that vehicle. The following vehicle is typically
outfitted with a crash barrier and is designed to protect the construction
vehicle. The problem with this system is that the driver of the following
protector vehicle is put in harm’s way. The plan is to use driverless
vehicles as the protection vehicles, eliminating this driver risk.
Driverless Vehicles are Not 100% Safe
Driverless vehicles are not 100% safe. Their ability to handle driving
tasks is only as good as their programming and whatever sensors they have
to obtain information to use with that programming. Additionally, as anyone
who has had their social security number or credit card information compromised
by any of the countless recent computer hacks knows, malicious hackers
find ways to hack into almost any computerized system. Computer systems
are far from flawless, so the question becomes, who do we hold responsible
if these systems fail?
Who Should We Hold Responsible When Driverless Vehicles Cause Accidents?
Driverless vehicles will radically change they way the civil courts have
to deal with automobile accidents. When there is no driver to hold responsible
for negligence, traditional methods of resolving these cases simply will
not work. Accidents caused by flaws in the computer programming or other
problems with the vehicle itself will be more akin to accidents caused
by other defects in the vehicle, so it seems a products liability approach
may be most likely. This would involve holding the manufacturer responsible
for the problem, rather than the car’s owner who likely had nothing
to do with it.
But what if the problem is caused in some part by the owner’s failure
to properly maintain the vehicle? Then there may still be a negligence
claim. Hackers who cause accidents may be held responsible, but if they
were able to hack the computer program because the manufacturer did not
take proper steps to prevent hacking, then maybe we have a products liability
What if the manufacturer provided security updates, but the owner failed
to install them, leaving the car vulnerable? All of these questions and
more will eventually have to be litigated.
Contact Goldstein & Hayes, P.C.
If you are injured in a car accident, now or in the future, it is important
to seek out the help of a forward-thinking and creative attorney like the
Atlanta accident lawyers at Goldstein & Hayes, PC. Call us today at (404)869-8600.