The day when vehicles on California’s roads may be driving themselves is not too far off. According to a KABC news report, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is starting to look into how to regulate driverless cars when they hit the road. Major automakers are currently working on autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars. But with such new, sophisticated technology comes the complex question of how to regulate them.
Many Questions – No Answers Yet
The DMV in particular is asking a number of questions. Should the DMV issue a license for someone to actually operate the vehicles? If so, what type of test do they need to give a driver of a self-driving car? There are many more concerns about fault and liability. For example, who would be at fault if a robotic car crashes? Or should a young child or a disabled person be allowed to ride alone.
These questions need to be answered sooner than later because driverless cars could become available commercially by the end of the decade. Under a California law passed in 2012, the DMV must decide by the end of this year how to integrate the cars onto public roads. The federal government is not even close to working on similar regulations. California’s ruling could very well become the national standard on this issue.
Are Driverless Cars Perfect?
As California personal injury lawyers, we would hope these cars are infallible. Some believe that these driverless cars could mean the end of auto accidents and the end of auto insurance. However, in California and Nevada, the law requires an operator to be present who can override the computer if necessary. There is also the issue of the driverless cars colliding with another vehicle, which is operated by a human driver. What happens then?
It’s too early to tell what problems driverless cars are going to pose or what problems they are going to solve. What we do know that when someone is injured in a car accident, he or she faces expenses relating to medical care, hospitalization, lost wages and other related costs. If the accident was not the fault of the victim, who should be held liable? This is another question that certainly needs to be addressed and one of several the DMV will have to evaluate.