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States Begin Passing Laws That Permit Self-Driven Vehicles

February 08, 2013

While our Atlanta car accident lawyers have previously addressed the possibility of a future where motor vehicles operate with minimal or no input from drivers, this vision of the future has changed from a science fiction fantasy to a reality. Three states – California, Florida and Nevada – have passed laws permitting self-driven vehicles.

Because the technology is new, states are allowing time to enact appropriate regulations for vehicles that operate autonomously. It is reasonable to assume that Georgia and other states will eventually follow suit. These self-driven cars raise interesting factual and legal liability issues, such as:

  • Malfunctions and Defects: If you own a computer, you are aware that all computers are subject to malfunctions, errors and viruses. When these types of computer glitches occur, it would seem that car accidents might result. This may mean that manufacturers of vehicles or computer components replace drivers as the most common party at-fault in motor vehicle accidents.
  • Elimination of Driver Error: The vast majority of serious car accidents are caused by some form of driver error. The prospect of eliminating drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding and reckless driving from the list of factors that contribute to auto collisions should theoretically lead to a substantial reduction in auto collision rates.
  • Eradication of Hit and Run: When a negligent driver flees the scene of an auto accident, the difficult challenges that face auto accident victims become more onerous. If the driver cannot be identified, the car accident injury victim may struggle to obtain financial compensation for medical bills, lost income and non-pecuniary losses like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, impaired quality of life and similar types of damages. While a driver with uninsured motorist coverage may submit a claim to one’s own insurance company, self-driven vehicles could be electronically disabled when involved in a collision to prevent hit and run.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Worn tires and brake pads pose a danger when maintenance is not performed or a repair shop does not competently carry out vehicle maintenance. When cars are self-driven, maintenance and repair issues may become even more important because computer systems will be responsible for the maneuvering and stopping. While vehicle manufacturers and repair shops are occasionally defendants in car accident lawsuits, this could become much more common if high-tech electronics provide the primary means for controlling vehicles on Atlanta streets.
  • Preservation of Evidence: Because these futuristic vehicles will be controlled by computer systems, it is likely they will have the capacity to provide detailed data when there is a malfunction or maintenance issue that causes a collision. This may promote settlements or personal injury claims and provide evidence regarding fault and causation in car accident lawsuits.

Many of these issues may be mitigated by backup systems or the ability of drivers to override automatic driving controls similar to the way pilots can take control away from the auto-pilot on a commercial airline. Admittedly, much of this is speculation because the technology is new and the regulations for operating self-driven vehicles have not yet been implemented. While traffic safety experts envision a future with far fewer car accidents, drivers who violate traffic safety laws and engage in other forms of unsafe driving will continue to cause many auto collisions in Atlanta and throughout the surrounding areas of Georgia.

If you are injured in an auto collision, our experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.

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