Car crash liability when there is no driver

The country is dealing with the questions surrounding the ever-changing technology involving autonomous vehicles. Legal liability for car accidents involving a driverless vehicle still remains unresolved and may be more complicated than dealing with lawsuits involving negligent drivers.

Addressing liability for accidents caused by a driverless vehicle is legally complex and may complicate efforts to gain compensation for accident victims. Insurance companies have not come up with an answer despite their efforts. The Governors Highway Safety Association issued a report for discussion at its annual meeting in Anaheim, California this month.

Experts argue that autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce car accidents. But traffic safety will continue to be a challenge with this mixture of driverless and non-automated cars. Because the average age of vehicles was 12 years in 2018, industry experts believe there will continue to be a mix of autonomous vehicles and cars with drivers on the nation's roads.

Most drivers across the nation, nonetheless, are still skeptical about these vehicles. Their testing has been geographically limited and not visible to most of the country.

The GHSA has already made several recommendations on this technology, however. First, safety messages should be developed containing information about the scope of automation. These should deal with existing driver assistance technology such as lane-departure warnings and fully automated, self-driving vehicles.

Additionally, attention should be focused on safety issues that currently pose serious safety risks. These include the problems posed by a distracted driver, speeding, and driving safely with pedestrians and bicyclists.

Finally, new policies and training must be developed for police and first responders. These should address responding to and conducting investigations of accidents involving these vehicles.

As this technology develops, Kentucky and other states will have to develop law and practices and address questions as they arise. An experienced attorney will be a resource for car crash victims seeking compensation.

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