California’s New Rules Slam Brakes On Google’s Driverless Car

Google Driverless Car

The California Department of Motor Vehicles’ recent move to ban the testing and deployment of driverless cars seems to take an extremely precautionary step.

But, according to, the rules on autonomous or driverless cars rest on flawed assumptions and threaten to slow down the innovation that might bring tremendous societal and safety benefits for individuals.

What’s the Issue?

At issue is the requirement that DMV-certified “vehicle operators” be present inside the vehicle and be capable to taking control in the event of an emergency situation or technological failure. What does this mean?

Driverless cars will not be allowed on California’s roads for the foreseeable future. One primary issue with the human operator requirement is that it requires a faulty design constraint.

Experts note that decades of scientific research have shown that people are not capable of monitoring something for long periods of time and then taking control when an emergency arises.

Google has had a similar experience with self-driving car prototypes as well. In fact, driverless cars have been offered up as antidotes for problems we see with drivers today such as drunk driving, distracted driving, inattention, and fatigued driving.

Together, it is safe to say that such forms of negligence on the part of drivers cause a majority of injury and fatality collisions. Worldwide, more than 50 million were injured and one million were killed in auto accidents, and human error was responsible for 90 percent of those crashes.

Putting the Lid on Innovation

There’s no question Google will be affected by the DMV’s proposed rules. The tech company’s self-driving car program is the farthest along in the driverless design approach, which the new rules would rein in. Other companies such as Tesla, GM and Apple, will also be affected.

If California regulators limit the development of driverless cars, it is not inconceivable that tech companies might shift their investments to more innovation-friendly states of countries. These rules, however, must go through public review before they are finalized.

As California car accident attorneys who see first-hand the devastating crashes cause, we are in support of driverless cars. It is short-sighted on the DMV’s part to slam the brakes on ground-breaking innovation, which could make our roadways safer.

We hope the public speaks out against these proposed rules and we certainly hope our tech companies can continue innovating and help California lead the way.

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