Driverless Cars: Can I Relax in the Backseat

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With the news of driverless cars comes the news of driverless car accidents. While computers are great, they are not full-proof. A recent investigation into a popular car manufacturer’s self-driving features determined it wouldn’t even pass a basic driver’s road test. The news seems to be covering stories of driverless car issues, from driving under the influence to sleeping while the vehicle is driving on its own. Most recently, a pair of men in Texas were testing out a self-driving car and had no one sitting in the driver’s seat to take over in case something went wrong.

The Misnomer – “Driverless”

Self-driving is the wrong word to be used to describe these vehicles. The function should be called driver-assist because that’s all it is capable of doing, assisting a driver. It is the driver’s responsibility to have adequate physical control over the vehicle they are driving. That means the driver is ultimately responsible for the actions of the car (except for the rare instance mechanical or operational failures of the vehicle in product liability cases).

A driver should always be prepared to take over control of a moving vehicle to stop in the event of an emergency. A driver is also responsible for knowing how to sufficiently and safely operate the vehicle they are driving. Make sure you read and understand all manufacturer instructions regarding the self-driving capabilities of your vehicle.

Get the Help You Need

Just as vehicles started keeping a “black box” of the dynamics of a vehicle prior to a crash, self-driving vehicles also typically have a computer that backs up all relevant data. This information can either help or hurt your case, but either way, it’s important to know what information is available to the attorneys.

It’s important to consult with the attorneys at Shlesinger & deVilleneuve about your rights after being involved in a crash with any vehicle, including a self-driving vehicle.


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