Get ready, Southern California: You could be sharing the busy roads of Los Angeles with driverless cars in 2018.
While you will not yet be able to purchase a driverless car, the Los Angeles Times reported last month that driverless vehicles could show up on a highway near you as test vehicles next year. These cars with no one behind the wheel will be authorized to pick up passengers, the newspaper reports, but only if the passengers are not charged a fee.
The timeline for driverless car introduction in California was released by DMV in October. The agency proposed a set of streamlined regulations that could speed the appearance of driverless cars in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, and elsewhere in So Cal.
Changes were made regarding driverless vehicle rules after industry leaders and politicians griped that they were too strict. The old rules required that cars with no drivers in the state had to have a real driver behind the wheel even during testing. States with more lax rules were getting more companies in line for the driverless-car revolution. This was risking the state’s reputation as a leader in technology, critics argued.
Driverless vehicles already are on the road in Arizona and Florida, as well as other states that have looser restrictions. California DMV has stated that it is attempting to balance concerns about safety with the development of cutting-edge technology that could benefit the state’s economy. Many proponents of the autonomous vehicles state that they will actually be safer than cars driven by humans.
New CA Regulations Will Allow More Robo-Cars On the Roads
The new rules will mandate that vehicle manufacturers testing the cars on public highways certify that federal standards are being met. The new regulations will pull back on current restrictions requiring California municipalities to approve driverless vehicle testing.
Today, there are 285 driverless vehicles under testing in the state, by 42 entities with permits. The majority of them are vehicle manufacturers or technology firms.
Congress also is mulling over new laws that would ease national standards on robo-car tests.
Concerns High About Self-Driving Vehicles: Surveys
State legislators may be giving the green light to the new technology, but many Americans are not yet on board. Surveys conducted by AAA and the University of Michigan revealed recently that three out of four drivers expressed fear about riding in a car with no driver. And 40% stated they would be reluctant to buy a car with semi-autonomous technology.
Surveys suggested that more than 80% of drivers are more trusting of their own skills as drivers than a machine. Many also believe that driverless technology is unproven and too new to be relied upon.
It could be that some respondents recall the Tesla driver killed in 2016 with the autopilot engaged. The man was decapitated when the Tesla’s computer failed to ‘see’ a tractor trailer turning in front of the car.
Liability in Driverless Vehicle Accidents
If driverless vehicles become common on California roads, the personal injury law landscape could change. There could be fewer cases of drivers being sued for personal injury and wrongful death. But there could be an increase in the number of product liability lawsuits. While cars without drivers do not get drunk, distracted or commit other human errors, technology can and does fail.
As these vehicles become more common, so will liability lawsuits for driverless vehicle accidents. In that case, it will be important to rely on an experienced personal injury law firm in Southern California such as Neale & Fhima to hold car and software manufacturers responsible for possibly defective equipment, cars or software.
Neale & Fhima Personal Injury Lawyers in Southern California
Neale & Fhima is a vehicle accident law firm serving Southern California, with offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco. Our attorneys can assist if you have been injured by a driverless car. We also can help if you have been injured in any type of car, truck or bus accident where another party is liable for your accident injuries. If you need legal advice about a driverless car or other accident, please call 949-661-1007. You also can complete the contact form below.