Self-Driving Vehicles Could Mean More Complicated Lawsuits
July 24, 2018 (wardsauto.com) An online article from wardsauto.com examines the persistence of human error during the testing of self-driving vehicles and the possible legal landscape when these vehicles become mainstream.*
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 94 percent of vehicle accidents are the result of human error. Another NHTSA report indicates that vehicle crashes in the United States are the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14 years.
People inside the autonomous vehicle industry believe this technology is the best way to reduce vehicle accidents and thereby deaths in the United States. But during the testing phase, developers still have to rely on humans, and the arrival of autonomous vehicles could make the legal landscape more complicated when accidents occur.
The pedestrian fatality in Tempe, Arizona demonstrates both concepts. A self-driving Uber vehicle was navigating the streets of Tempe in May and sensed a pedestrian in its path, Elaine Herzberg, but did not engage the brakes or attempt to avoid her. The human safety driver inside, Rafaela Vasquez, was looking down at her phone, where she was streaming episodes of a television show. Distracted by her phone, Vasquez did not see Herzberg in time and also did not engage the brakes.
From a legal standpoint, both Vasquez and the vehicle could be at fault for the death of Herzberg. Investigation shows the vehicle’s emergency braking systems had been turned off to eliminate erratic braking and create a smoother ride. It’s therefore easiest for people to blame Vasquez , but in the future of autonomous driving, this option won’t be available. Accident victims will have to bring complicated product liability lawsuits against vehicle manufactures to receive compensation. As the roadways change, so must the legal system.
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*This blog is intended to provide the public with news concerning serious automobile accidents and related stories. Although we are receiving this information from news organizations, sometimes initial reports are different from conclusions reached by law enforcement personnel and other organizations. Therefore, the accuracy of the content is not guaranteed. This information published here is based on information that has already been reported by a news organization, or other sources, but if it pertains to you or your family and you do not wish for it to be on our website, please email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to remove it.