Who is Responsible for Autopilot Collisions?
A New Concern: Self-Driving Cars
Drivers should always pay close attention to the road in order to make sound decisions. When they don’t, they can be held responsible for car crashes and be required to cover the cost of resulting damages. However, what happens when the person operating a car is not a person, but a computer system? Will the vehicle manufacturer of the autopilot system be held liable for a computer failure that causes a collision? This is a relevant question that needs a sufficient answer.
Liability for Accidents When a Car is on Autopilot
Currently, autopilot systems place the bulk of responsibility on the driver to prevent a crash. Recently, after Tesla became involved in a deadly car crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted an investigation. LA Times claimed that NHTSA stressed that the responsibility of crash prevention still rests on the driver. NHTSA investigated other less severe accidents with Tesla’s autopilot program. They discovered that distraction played a large factor in these accidents.
Tesla made a clear statement to drivers that they were liable for avoiding crashes, even with the autopilot system in operation. Tesla’s manual and autopilot system reminds drivers to pay attention to the roadway. The driver who lost their life in a deadly crash, sadly, was likely not paying attention to what was happening in their surroundings. His Tesla drove underneath an 18-wheeler in the process of making a left-hand turn, and he sustained fatal injuries. The truck driver said that he heard Harry Potter playing at the time of the crash. It is assumed that the driver was watching a movie and not focusing on the road.
As long as autopilot systems are just used as a tool to help drivers, drivers still hold the majority of responsibility to stop a crash. The Scientific American states that a shift could take place regarding driverless technology as advances are made to replace motorists. To quote, Scientific American claims: "When a computerized driver replaces a human one, experts say the companies behind the software and hardware sit in the legal liability chain-not the car owner or the person's insurance company. Eventually, and inevitably, the car makers will have to take the blame."
Self-Driving Car Accidents in New Mexico
At the present time, driverless cars have a higher accident rate than human drivers. For every million self-driving cars that are used, there is an average of 9.1 accidents. For regular cars, the rate is 4.1 accidents out of every million vehicles.
It is believed, by the end of 2035, there will be 4.5 million self-driving cars on American roadways. These cars have been shown to cause accidents, making them a new safety concern for all drivers. The law surrounding these accidents is still forming, but it has been stated that liability ultimately lies with the driver.
In complex cases such as these, it helps to enlist the help of a trained New Mexico auto accident lawyer. Will Ferguson & Associates can utilize our years of experience in personal injury law to help make sure your legal rights are secure. Contact us today at (505) 243-5566 to see what options are available for your case.