Driverless cars were once the stuff of science fiction. They are now a reality as Google and various car manufacturers have introduced their versions to the market. Google has been testing a fleet of self-driving cars for the past five years. They’ve covered several thousands of miles.
It is now possible for drivers to purchase cars that can brake automatically, parallel park or even change lanes. However, following several accidents involving these vehicles, questions are arising as to who should be held liable in the event that a collision is caused by an autonomous vehicle. Should you blame the driver or the car manufacturer for the accident? Who ought to pay for damages?
Increased road safety?
Driverless cars are fitted with a wide variety of features to assist drivers and increase road safety. Car manufacturers however are moving towards fully autonomous cars. Manufacturers justify this as a move towards increasing road safety and reducing the number of accidents on the road.
Several accidents have already occurred that involve driverless cars. However, car manufacturers have come up in many of these cases to point out that the accidents occurred as a result of driver error and not a failure or error in the car’s system.
However, as we move towards fully autonomous systems, people want to know who they should hold responsible when a collision occurs.
Will manufacturers take the blame?
When a car accident occurs, one driver is usually found to be responsible for the accident. But what happens when a collision is caused by an autonomous vehicle?
This has become one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of driverless cars in the US. In manufacturing driverless cars, the manufacturer is essentially making the car the legal driver. The manufacturers as a result are assuming even more responsibility for accidents that may occur involving their vehicles.
Google and Volvo have been vocal about accepting full liability for any accidents that may occur involving the driverless cars. The manufacturers have made this move in an effort to expedite regulations that are holding back the introduction of the cars in the US. Different states have different laws and rules, which are proving to be inconsistent making it difficult for manufacturers to comply to.
While the law is still unclear where driverless cars are concerned, Product Liability laws require that manufacturers be held responsible for injuries resulting from the failure of their products. Car manufacturers are therefore most likely to be held liable for accidents caused by driverless cars.