There has been a great deal of fervor in recent years about self-driving car technologies. While proponents say that automatically-driven cars are extremely safe and ready for testing on U.S. roads, critics say that the technology isn't quite there yet.
Even if self-driving technology is safe, however, it raises serious questions about liability. One of the biggest of these is whether the developers of the technology, vehicle owners or a combination of parties will be financially liable in the event that an autonomous car causes an accident and injuries.
Proof that self-driven cars might not be as safe as we thought
An accident involving an autonomously driven Uber SUV and a pedestrian in Arizona is being cited as an example of why self-driven cars might not be ready for the road. The Uber SUV was on automatic mode with a human supervising driver on board at the time it struck and killed a female pedestrian who was crossing the road outside of a crosswalk.
In response to the accident, Uber and Toyota -- which are working with self-driving technology -- have decided to pause their open road testing for the time being. Other automakers are also considering a temporary pause on testing.
Congress is considering a bill to regulate driverless cars
Congress is considering a bill to regulate driverless cars at the moment, but advocacy groups, state officials and others are calling for caution -- as it is their position that we might not be ready for open-road testing of this type.
As for fault in the crash that killed the pedestrian in Arizona, police have said that they don't believe the Uber SUV was at fault. However, if the question of fault were set aside, would the woman still have died if an attentive human driver had been behind the wheel of this sport utility vehicle?
Only time will tell how the legal system will handle autonomous car crashes
It's impossible to predict how the legal system will handle autonomous car crashes in the future. In the meantime, personal injury lawyers, the owners and manufacturers of autonomous cars and the victims of autonomous car crashes may want to pay close attention to how these crashes are handled by their state civil and criminal court systems.