According to industry projections from BI Intelligence, semi-autonomous and completely autonomous vehicles will account for 10 million vehicles on roadways in 2020. Championed to reduce accidents and improve transportation experiences, self-driving cars seem to be the answer to roadway woes. As a wrongful death law firm, we wonder if recent accidents involving self-driving cars show another side to the story.

Concept vs. Reality

In theory, self-driving cars take the guesswork out of driving. Semi-autonomous vehicles warn drivers of hazards, offer information to eliminate blind spots, and connect with smartphone apps for support services. Full-autonomous vehicles use deep learning and predictive analytics to maintain safe speeds, navigate highways, and maintain safe distances from other vehicles. Outcomes of using self-driving cars potentially include lower operating costs, improved traffic flows, and enhanced safety.

In reality, the technology requires ongoing development and time. The first generation of self-driving cars will not afford the same safety experience as cars released in 2030. Already, crashes involving self-driving vehicles foreshadow roadblocks to development. In February, a Google self-driving car collided with the side of a bus. The autonomous vehicle attempted to change lanes and navigate around sandbags in a storm drain. In doing so, it hit the bus’s side.

A driver lost his life in an accident involving Tesla Model S electric and autonomous vehicle this June. While in self-driving mode, the vehicle failed to brake as an 18-wheeler turned left in front of it. According to accident information, the vehicle and the driver both missed the glaring white side of the large truck in the sunlight.


Problems with Self-Driving Cars

Accidents involving self-driving vehicles highlight the shortcomings of autonomous driving. Each day humans make split-second decisions on the roadways. They use instinct, muscle memory, and years of experience to make an ethical judgment call in a completely new driving scenario. Self-driving cars, on the other hand, can only extrapolate data from a given set. In unexpected situations, a self-driving car may make the wrong judgment call and cause more harm than good.

Assuming a self-driving car can make the right judgment call, it relies on technology to do so. Even today’s cutting edge technology is subject to glitches. In the event of an operating system glitch or crash, dependent drivers may not react in time. Testing and time will answer many of the questions critics pose. Until then, cautious optimism can improve safety and security on the roadways.


Personal Injury Law and the Rise of Self-Driving Cars

As more self-driving cars enter the roadways, wrongful death attorneys, investigators, and legislators will all play a vital role in policy/legislative development. Each time a crash occurs and someone suffers an injury, personal injury attorneys bring attention to technological concerns and create legal precedents that may help others.

Liability largely determines the outcome of personal injury cases, and self-driving vehicles present many unanswered liability concerns. Considering most self-driving cars on the road today are only semi-autonomous, either the driver or the vehicle manufacturer may bear responsibility for the accident.

In addition to basic liability, insurers must plan for how they will support drivers of semi-autonomous or fully-autonomous vehicles. Currently, drivers and those injured may struggle to secure fair compensation under insurance policies that fail to consider self-driving vehicles. As each case involving self-driving cars unfolds, personal injury attorneys and their clients will shape the future of self-driving car accident laws and insurance policies in each state.

If you suffer an injury in an accident involving a self-driving vehicle, discuss your options with an accident attorney. A Miami personal injury attorney who understands the developing laws and legal considerations can protect your right to compensation after a serious accident. Taking action may also prevent others from experiencing problems with unsafe technology. Self-driving cars represent an opportunity for safer roads, but the current technology also represents a concern for all drivers.