Who is the Better Driver: a Computer or a Human?

In the last decade, the race to create a fully autonomous, self-driving vehicle has reached a peak. Proponents of these vehicles say that they will sharply decrease the amount of motor vehicle accidents, using the latest technology and recognition software. In a state like Florida where more than 200,000 car accidents occur ever year, this kind of technology could save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of dangerous crashes. However, the road to a perfect self-driving car is a long one.

In May 2016, a 40-year old man was killed behind the wheel of a self-driving Tesla in Williston, Florida. He was later identified as Joshua Brown, a navy veteran from Ohio. This was the first major accident involving a self-driving vehicle, and unfortunately, it is not likely to be the last. The 2015 Tesla he was in operates by using a specialized computer program, sensors, radar, and several cameras around and inside the vehicle. Reports indicated that the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer turned in front of Brown’s vehicle and the car did not slow down or brake. Apparently the white side of the trailer was not visible to either Brown or the Tesla against the brightness of the sky, so the car did not stop or slow down.

Can self-driving vehicles make split-second decisions like humans can? This is the point of contention in the self-driving car debate. A self-driving car must have the ability to adapt, change, and quickly make choices based on the safety of the driver and those around them. Otherwise, this technology has the ability to hinder road safety, not help it.

Despite the fatal 2016 accident, several companies are racing to invest in self-driving technologies. Both Google and GM have announced plans to move forward with their own self-driving vehicles.

On July 19, 2017, a bill was introduced to the House of Representatives titled “The Highly Automated Testing and Deployment Act of 2017”, seeking to regulate the testing and creation of self-driving vehicles. Under the proposed regulations, up to 100,000 self-driving vehicles will be tested on public roadways. Regulations will be set federally, so states will be prevented from enacting their own self-driving laws.

Where is the fate of insurance companies in all of this? Companies like Volvo, Mercedes, and Google have all stated that they will accept liability if their self-driving vehicles are involved in an accident. Tesla is already looking into selling their vehicles with an insurance and maintenance bundle. Insurance companies will have the option of working with larger manufacturers to create specialized insurance products that will be included with the price of any self-driving vehicle. There will be, undoubtedly, some kind of a mad dash as insurance companies try to keep up with the changing technology. The only thing that we know for sure is that change is on the horizon.

Call Pallegar Law, P.A. if You Have Been Involved in a Car Accident

Until every car is self-driving and perfectly safe, there will be accidents. At Pallegar Law, P.A., we are here to help. If you have been in an accident and want to seek financial compensation for your injuries, call our Sarasota office at 941-893-5816.

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