Phoenix Driverless Vehicle Accident Attorneys
Motor vehicle manufacturers and technology companies are aggressively researching and testing driverless technology. Companies like Volvo, Uber, General Motors, Tesla, and many startups already have self-driven cars and even tractor-trailers on roads in the United States and Europe, but these vehicles still have human drivers aboard as a safety measure. This is predicted to change in the next few years, making truly driverless motor vehicles a reality.
Proponents of these driver-free vehicles claim that they will make the roads safer and reduce traffic congestion, but recent accidents involving autonomous vehicles have raised questions about their safety and about who can be held responsible in such accidents. Liability law concerning driver-free vehicles is uncharted territory, and many issues must be sorted out by the courts.
If you or someone you love was injured by a negligent driver or manufacturer in a self-driving car accident, you still have rights, but there may be complicated answers as to who can be held liable. The Husband and Wife Law Team is no stranger to complicated auto accident cases and can use our years of experience to help you understand your rights to compensation. Our Phoenix driverless vehicle accident attorneys at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. can sit down with you in a free consultation, learn how you were injured, and break down how to get you compensation for your injuries. If you let us represent you in a car accident or product liability claim, we will use all of our expertise to fight for your best interests.
Call us today at (602) 457-6222 for a free consultation.
Uber claimed that, worldwide, self-driving cars "can help save millions of lives." This statement, along with safety claims from other driverless vehicle enthusiasts, usually stem from the estimate that 94% of all traffic accidents are the result of human error. But there are several problems with relying on statistics about the human cause of accidents, and not on a human driver’s ability to avoid accidents. This is because no one reports an "almost accident."
When considering the safety potential of self-driven vehicles, hypothetical questions like the following are often posed:
“A driverless car is driving down the street. A mother pushing a stroller steps out into its path. The vehicle is traveling too fast to stop in time. Does the computer driving the car… (a) hit the mother and child, or (b) swerve to avoid hitting the mother and child, and in doing so, crash into oncoming traffic, injuring or killing the car’s passengers? Will giving vehicles the right to make such split-second decisions really make the roads safer?”
Another concern about traffic safety and driverless vehicles is the transition period between when autonomous cars and trucks are introduced and share the roads with human drivers, before all vehicles are driverless. Will self-driven vehicles understand the subtle language of driving, such as waving another driver through an intersection or flashing your vehicle’s high beams? And, since driverless cars will be programmed to follow traffic laws, will they be able to safely share roads with human drivers who often don’t follow traffic laws to a T?
For instance, a driverless commercial truck is approaching an intersection where left-hand turns are illegal. The computer reads this and assumes the human driver approaching from the opposite direction will abide by the no-left-turn law and not turn. But, human drivers are known to make errors or willfully violate such laws. Will the driverless truck have the wisdom and experience to not assume the human-driven vehicles will follow the law?
Whether driverless vehicles will really make the roads safer remains to be seen.
Despite claims made by car manufacturers about auto-pilot systems and self-driving vehicles, the truth is that even the most advanced car needs a human driver. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) categorizes self-driving vehicles into five levels based on how autonomous they really are:
- Zero: No automation where a driver is fully in control of the vehicle.
- One: Driver assisted vehicles that are controlled by drivers but provide some assistance.
- Two: Partial automation where a driver must still focus on driving but the vehicle has automated features, like controlling the vehicle’s acceleration and steering.
- Three: Conditional automation where a driver is necessary to prevent accidents and should take control in a serious situation, but the vehicle can handle some tasks.
- Four: High automation where a vehicle is capable of controlling a car in almost all scenarios, but a driver can take control if necessary.
- Five: Full automation where a driver is not required to operate the vehicle.
Current self-driving cars are only at level two, meaning human drivers are still important to operating the vehicle safely. Drivers must still pay attention to the road, obey local traffic laws, and keep an eye out for pedestrians.
There are some vehicles being tested at higher levels, including level five self-driving vehicles created by Waymo, a subsidiary of Google. Waymo is testing self-driving cars all across the country, including here in Phoenix, through a limited rideshare service that uses fully automated cars to transport passengers. These vehicles are closely monitored by Waymo researchers and must follow all the same laws as other vehicles, according to Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). ADOT also requires testing companies to have auto insurance for their vehicles in case a self-driving car is involved in an accident.
Probably one of the biggest changes that self-driven vehicles will bring to society is when it comes to liability for traffic accidents. In their current state, self-driving vehicles still require human drivers to prevent accidents, and these drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles with care. If a driver takes their hands of the wheel, gets distracted by their phone, or even falls asleep at the wheel, they can still be found liable for a collision in a car accident claim.
Vehicles that are being tested on public roads are still subject to insurance laws. If you were injured by a self-driving vehicle, you may be able to file a claim against the research company’s insurance policy to recover compensation.
In the future, some traffic accidents may be handled through product liability claims, against either the manufacturer of a vehicle or the company that designed its self-driving system. This could result in larger settlements in many cases, because large corporations have much deeper pockets than a human driver would.
But large corporations also have high-priced lawyers to defend them in court or represent them in litigation. If you were injured by a self-driving car, you’d need to have a skilled attorney representing you in a claim against an automaker or self-driving system designer.
Whether driverless vehicles will replace all human drivers is doubtful, since many people, such as motorcycle riders, enjoy riding. And even if there are no more human drivers, there will still be accidents, though possibly not as many. Either way, if you’ve been injured by a self-driven vehicle, you need to call the Phoenix car accident attorneys at the Husband and Wife Law Team.
Breyer Law Offices, P.C., has been successfully representing Arizona motor vehicle accident victims for over two decades. Let us put our experience to work on your claim. Call us at (602) 457-6222 for a free case evaluation.
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During a free consultation, we will look at the important aspects of your case, answer your questions, and explain your legal rights and options clearly. All submissions are confidentially reviewed by Mark Breyer.
Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer