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Self-Driving Cars: Technology May Change the Rules of the Road

The advent of new technology requires laws, regulations, and rules to be amended and redefined to include new technology under the State and Federal Government's purview. Self-driving vehicles have been at the recent legal forefront; these automated cars, though in theory sound unbelievably impressive, create significant liability issues in the event of an accident.
Self-driving cars bring an important question to light: if the passenger sitting in the driver seat was not actually driving the car, then who is to blame for an accident? Though this question may not seem pertinent now, especially if you do not have the funds to invest in one of these new automated cars, it may become relevant if one collides with your car. 

Autonomous Cars Nationwide

These self-driving cars are on the way in and in full force. Google has already established its own fleet of self-driving, automated cars, and BMW and Audi are close on its heels with research and development of their own self-driving vehicles. Google has provided studies showing that their cars on California roads have driven over 300,000 miles without a single incident (the only accident happened as a result of a person manually driving the car). California and Arizona lawmakers are attempting to restructure their legislation to include these self-automated cars, and determine the rules and regulations that should apply.

Proposed Laws for Autonomous Cars

Currently, a consistent measure that has been applied in a few different states requires that a licensed driver must be behind the wheel at all times. In Austin, Texas, a recent bill was put forward that would lay liability on the licensed driver in the event of an accident, even if the driver was not driving at the time of the accident. It has been hypothesized that parking and/or traffic tickets will be the responsibility of the owner of the car. In the case of an accident that injures or kills another person, many parties might be brought into court, most likely the manufacturer of the car and the owner of the vehicle.

New York Law on Autonomous Vehicles

New York recently amended its Vehicle and Traffic Law to outline the laws regulating the automated car. The law requires the following:

  • The autonomous vehicle must conform to the federal standards and regulations of motor vehicles;

  • The switch between autonomous technology and manual operator must be easily accessible;

  • The operator of the autonomous vehicle must be a licensed driver;

  • The autonomous vehicles in New York are still in the testing stage and therefore only employees, contractors, or other persons contracted by the manufacturer may operate the automated car on public highways; and

  • Finally, once the car is delivered to a third party (for example, a private party), liability is converted to the third party, unless the defect of the car was originally present at the time of the car's sale.

The law in New York is still being amended and changed. With a surge of these self-driving cars, new legal issues regarding duty of care and the negligence standards will be at the forefront of the discussion, and may change the way personal injury claims work.

NYC Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident in New York City, please contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at Keogh Crispi, P.C. Our legal professionals will be able to determine if you are able to recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of the accident. Call us today at 212- 818-0600 or send us a message online.

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