When it comes to car accidents, in most cases, the question of who is responsible for injuring other drivers is usually a matter of determining which driver is at fault. It can get more complex with multi-car accidents, but generally, someone behind the wheel involved in the accident is the negligent party.
But what happens when there is no driver? That seemingly odd question will become common once self driving cars become more common, and in fact, that future is so close that federal regulators have recently released a new checklist of safety points for self-driving cars. The government is urging car makers to ensure their self-driving cars meet these requirements before putting them on the road.
Regulators have made the following requests of self driving car makers:
- Sharing of data – these cars have complex computers that collect loads of data on how the car is operating. Regulators want makers to share this information with safety agencies.
- Privacy – On the other hand, regulators want to make sure that information collected by the car’s computers that is personal to the driver, is protected.
- Security of Systems – If a computer can be hacked, and these cars are giant driving computers, regulators want to be sure that they are protected from viruses or hackers.
- Backup systems – Much like a plane has backup systems when primary ones fail, regulators want to make sure that self-driving cars aren’t a danger if systems should malfunction by providing backup systems.
- Human interface – Self-driving cars can still be taken over and driven by humans. The transition mid-drive from autonomous driving and human controlled driving, needs to be seamless and safe.
- Post-Accidents – Cars that are in accidents are routinely fixed and put on the road. But with self-driving cars, that requires more than fixing a fender. Regulators want to make sure that when cars are put on the road after an accident, that the internal computer systems are restored to working order as well.
- Laws – Regulators want cars to be able to recognize the difference between each state’s laws, such as speed limit differences. They also want the cars to understand which intersections may prohibit left turns, which may not allow right turns, and other restrictions that may vary depending on where the car is driving.
- Surprises – Regulators want to make sure that cars can respond to surprises on the road, such as a tree suddenly falling, or a truck that loses its load suddenly in front of the car.
Regulations Are Just the Start of Vehicle Safety
These are just some of the considerations that regulators are asking of makers of self-driving cars. While the technology may be there for a car to drive itself, it is clear that for these cars to be safe, there will have to be many considerations that go beyond just routine driving.
And although government standards are not automatically evidence of negligence of they are not followed, they at least provide a framework of what reasonable behavior is, in the event things go wrong.
If you have been injured in a car accident, make sure the negligent party is held responsible. Contact the injury and accident attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss the handling of your case.