While the advent of driverless technology will likely complicate determining fault in the wake of a serious or fatal traffic collision, safety advocates are banking on the fact that it will remove the biggest threat from the road: human drivers.
No longer a distant technology, self-driving trucks are already making deliveries in Southern California, according to a report in Wired Magazine. But, with some $80 billion already invested amid the expectation of putting tens of thousands of driverless vehicles on the road in the next decade, the auto industry is grappling with a host of ethical issues that will eventually find their way into personal injury law.
Dangerous drivers most likely at-fault party in Palm Beach collisions
As West Palm Beach auto accident lawyers know, at-fault drivers are most often responsible for traffic accident injuries. Common causes include distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving behavior, and driving while fatigued or intoxicated.
But what happens when man meets machine?
Detroit automakers are betting big on the technology even as the U.S. Department of Transportation reports "no consensus around acceptable ethical decision making."
Should a driverless vehicle avoid a collision with a school bus even if the bus is at fault? Even if doing so will result in almost certain death for a driverless vehicle's passengers? What about cases where a computer may be able to react more quickly than a human driver? Or cases where a human driver may decide to act in his or her own best interest?
Who's at fault for tomorrow's accidents in West Palm?
A study by the University of California at Irvine found motorists generally agree that driverless technology should make decisions based on saving the greatest number of people from serious injury or death. However, they also reported being less likely to buy a vehicle in which their family or friends could be put in harm's way for the greater good.
Proponents of the technology suggest it will be programmed to avoid the vast majority of such problems in the first place, promising such technology will reduce death on the road by 90 percent.
But drivers are less certain, with AAA reporting 70 percent of motorists are suspicious of driverless technology. And a patchwork of state regulations and regional differences may make implementation of a driverless future exceedingly difficult.
From a legal standpoint, developers of such technology owe a duty of care to other motorists on the road. Under Florida Statute 429.29 a motorist may take civil action to enforce rights in cases where an identified defendant owed the motorist a duty of care, breached that duty, and that breach resulted in legal loss, damages, injury or death. While seeking qualified legal help after a serious or fatal accident is always critical, technology is increasingly requiring advanced knowledge in identifying all responsible defendants and recovering damages.
For now, motorists would do well to remember that their behavior, and the behavior of other motorists, remains the primary threat on the road. Pay attention at all times while driving, but particularly at intersections or when approaching bicyclists or pedestrians; don't speed, yield the right of way, don't follow too closely, and stop worrying about the driverless car in the lane next to you.
In the event of an auto accident, you need the legal counsel of an experienced West Palm County auto accident attorney. Contact David J. Glatthorn or call toll free at 800-990-9394 .