Self-driving cars can do many things to help improve our lives, such as reduce pollution, cut down parking time, shorten commutes and prevent traffic accidents. The public is somewhat split on the idea of giving up the steering wheel to a machine, but most experts seem to think that, when the technology is ready, our lives will get better.
There is more that has to happen other than technical innovation before these cars go mainstream, however. Our current laws around traffic and accidents give detailed rules on what isn’t acceptable and who is responsible in the event that something goes wrong. Many don’t think of the traffic and road laws as a source of innovation, but if we are going to let our cars drive us to work each day, lawmakers are going to have to get pretty creative.
How are Regulators Handling Self-Driving Cars?
Mark Rosekind, the top highway regulator in the country, has said that he believes in the future of self-driving cars, but admits the government is still working on regulations. It isn’t exactly clear who will be liable in an accident.
Many have complained about the lack of rules in place to govern self-driving cars, but the issue was relatively minor until recently. It’s no longer just a handful of Google cars in California. Major automakers such as Mercedes, Mazda and Ford have all released self-driving technology. Our laws need to hurry and create safety standards to prevent traffic accidents before the technology gets too far ahead.
The following issues need to be addressed:
- What safety regulations will self-driving cars follow? Who is responsible if their car violates a traffic law, and how will self-driving cars change the laws we have?
- Who is liable if a self-driving car crashes? Since there is no longer a person at the wheel, it isn’t always the driver’s fault. Who is to blame? The manufacturer? This question must be answered before we have injuries with no legal explanations.
- What regulations can prevent hackers and other technical issues? How much will companies be responsible if criminals infiltrate their products? How will we handle these safety concerns?
Most people think that it will only take a few years of technical innovations before these cars hit the roads, but there will also need to be legal conversations about how to keep people safe. If these questions aren’t answered soon, we’re are going to have a problem, because tech companies are showing no sign of slowing down plans.
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