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Why are Most Americans Afraid of Fully Self-Driving Cars?

West Palm Beach auto accident attorneyIt may still seem like something out of a science-fiction movie, but self-driving cars will likely be the norm in the coming years as the technology continues to develop and evolve.

Florida lawmakers recently passed a bill legalizing autonomous vehicles. The bill is awaiting a signature from Governor Ron DeSantis.

If the bill becomes law, individuals across the state will be allowed to purchase and operate self-driving cars. In addition, they will be able to summon autonomous rideshares, like Uber.

“This measure provides direction on the roles of state and local government and authorization for the deployment of automated vehicles on a ride-sharing network," said Stephanie Smith, Uber’s senior policy manager. “These provisions establish a clear pathway to bring the benefits of automation to our state.”

Safety concerns raised after a fatal pedestrian crash

Rolling out self-driving vehicles won’t be easy. It will require in-depth testing and development before winning over the trust of the public.

In 2018, a fatal pedestrian crash involving a self-driving Uber in Tempe, Arizona made national headlines. While the vehicle was programmed to identify collision risks and apply the brakes, the emergency braking feature was reportedly disabled. In addition, the vehicle operator was distracted by a handheld device at the time of the crash, and therefore, didn’t take control of the vehicle. The crash spurred public outcry and was a major setback for the Uber autonomous vehicle program.

Autonomous vehicles raise two notable safety concerns:

  • Reliability: Are they susceptible to glitches and malfunctions?
  • Human error: Will those who operate them become so reliant on the technology that they take their attention off the road?

A growing distrust among the public

These issues alone are enough to spawn an underlying fear among the general public. The American Automobile Association (AAA) conducted its annual automated vehicle survey and found that 71 percent of participants feared operating or riding in fully autonomous vehicles.

The survey also found:

  • 53 percent of participants said they trusted self-driving technology when used for short distances and at low speeds
  • 44 percent trusted self-driving technology for package and food deliveries

The purpose of these vehicles is to eliminate human error. While distrust is generally high, the implementation of self-driving vehicles is still years away. Not only does the technology need to be further tested, infrastructure changes will also need to be made.

In the meantime, testing of this technology has the potential to put lives at risk, as we have already seen last year in Tempe, AZ. Should you or a loved one be injured in a crash with a self-driving vehicle, those responsible for operating the vehicle or placing it in service can be held accountable.

An experienced car accident attorney at David J. Glatthorn, P.A. can help you recover any financial losses accrued from your crash – medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. To learn more, contact us today.

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Since 1980, Attorney David Glatthorn has been serving the residents of West Palm Beach. He works in many areas of personal injury law, including car accidents, slip and fall injuries, workplace injuries and many others. Attorney Glatthorn is known for his dedication and experience. If you were injured due to another person's negligence, call David Glatthorn Law today.

David J. Glatthorn, P.A.
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