Imagine that you’re on a cross country road trip in your brand new self-driving car. It’s hour six with only two hours to go. You’ve been enjoying the scenery, maybe a book and pleasant conversation with your fellow passengers. Suddenly, a large deer crosses your path and the vehicle’s brakes lock. Will you be able to react fast enough?
Self-driving cars may sound like something straight out of Blade Runner, but these automated vehicles have been road legal since 2011. Google, Tesla and even mainstream manufacturers like BMW and Toyota are preparing self-driving cars for the road. Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia have addressed laws and concerns specific to driverless cars. While there aren’t many on the road yet, 2016 saw the first incident of a fatal accident in a self-driving vehicle. Considering the 1.25 million people who die each year from collisions, one fatal accident in five years is not a bad track record. However, there are deeper implications to this technology.
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that of 500 people, 96.2 percent of people questioned preferred to have a steering, gas and brake controls available if they were to use a self-driving car. This skepticism comes from a fear of automation and technology. However, automation is already a large part of our life. We trust automated technology in many aspects of our lives.
As self-driving cars become more accessible to the public, personal injury lawyers, vehicle manufacturers, insurance carriers, and everyday drivers and pedestrians will have to start considering the effects of who is really behind the wheel. Self driving cars will need further legislation before attorneys and average citizens get involved. Self-driving cars have the potential to dramatically the way we get from point A to point B.
As of now, the manufacturers have been held responsible and show hesitation over releasing technology that may not be ready. So for the time being, you may not encounter many self-driving cars during your daily commute, but do you really trust the human drivers near you more than a machine?