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Self-driving cars and liability

The latest fatality caused by an Uber self-driving car has caused some North Carolina drivers to ask the question, who is ultimately responsible if a fully automated car gets in an accident? In the past years, other test runs involving self-driving cars have resulted in crashes which points out the technology is not quite ready for these vehicles to make it on their own. Once they are, many people agree that the car manufacturers will be liable for any property or medical damages.

According to Scientific American, experts seem to have come together to concur that once a computerized driver takes the place of a human one, those who make the hardware and software need to take responsibility for mistakes and malfunctions. Carmakers seem to be on board with this as well, as they argue that self-driving cars are so much safer than other ones. Studies have shown that equipment such as crash-imminent braking systems, Pilot Assist and parallel-parking technology can significantly reduce the number and severity of accidents on the road.

USA Today also points out that future automated vehicles will be programmed to avoid common traffic offenses such as running red lights and speeding. This begs the question of who receives the traffic ticket if the car is involved in a violation. One suggestion is law enforcement officials will be in charge of determining if the human or car could have avoided the offense. Other court considerations related to self-driving cars include DUI citation, the issuance of special licenses and control issues. 


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Brannen & Walker Attorneys at law

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