Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Moving into unchartered territory with self-driving cars

In New York and elsewhere, government agencies and safety advocates continuously work to protect the lives of citizens during road travel. This includes monitoring and regulating the various means of transportation available to people. A new technology that may change the industry drastically is the self-driving vehicle. As such, there has been much discussion as to how highly automated vehicles are going to affect driver safety.

While HAVs have yet to become a staple on New York’s roads, many people are already praising the possible benefits. Geekwire explains what HAV proponents anticipate. One change may be how drivers are insured. The level of liability attributed to policyholders might change along with the affordability of premiums. This is because the nature of an auto policy has been to protect against mistakes made by people. However, with a driverless vehicle, the risk may be transferred to the makers of the HAVs and how their technology functions.

Another advantage, which may be the most significant, is how driverless cars will affect car accidents. One study estimates that if self-driving vehicles had been readily available to consumers over the past ten years, the United States might have saved nearly $200 billion and prevented approximately 300,000 deaths.

Despite studies such as these, there is still a concern with regard to a complete dependency on technology. As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently released a policy addressing HAVs. This includes suggestions related to supporting the development of new government regulations and resources, establishing requirements that are consistent across all states, and abiding by certain procedures to ensure that a finished HAV product is ready and safe for consumer use. While DOT officials understand that driverless vehicles may reduce the prevalence of accidents, they still insist that it is important to make sure that new hazards do not emerge and negate the purpose of the technology.

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