Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars, like Tesla vehicles,  may have seemed, until recently, like a futuristic cartoon, but suddenly the future is now. At Compass Law Group, LLP, a leading personal injury law firm in Los Angeles, we are well-aware of the astonishing speed with which technology is advancing and of the differences self-driving cars will make in all of our lives. While self-driving vehicles may seem like a remarkable remedy for drunk or distracted driving, presenting us with a practical way to prevent car accident injuries, they also present society with new confusions and new dangers.

Although Tesla is the company best known to have developed autonomous vehicles, other car companies — including Nissan, Cadillac, BMW, Toyota, and Volvo — have quickly developed competing models. It should be remembered that while an increasing number of vehicles now offer some automated, assistive safety features, there is no vehicle currently for sale that is fully automated. Nonetheless, worries about liability issues are already coming to the fore.

As wonderful as technology is, it is by no means perfect. Devastating injuries and deaths have already resulted from accidents involving partially self-driving cars that were manufactured by Tesla and other car companies.

Taking an Objective Look at the Pros and Cons of Self-Driving Cars

As car accident attorneys, we are used to looking hard and long at statistics involving traffic accidents that result in serious injuries and fatalities. Since we interact with victims and their families on a daily basis, fighting to win them damages to cover their medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and other associated expenses, we are eager to learn how the risk factors of car accident injuries can be lowered for all of us. Below are some of the pros and cons of self-driving cars.

Pros of Self-Driving Cars

1. Decreased number of accidents resulting from human error

Autonomous cars are navigated by artificial intelligence that cannot abuse substances, have a medical event, or be distracted by electronic devices, but is entirely focused on the task at hand. Self-driving cars do not guess distances from other vehicles but use complicated algorithms to calculate the correct stopping distance. Since the vast majority of accidents occur as a result of human error, autonomous cars will lower the risk.

2. Fewer Traffic Jams

Because computers can interface with one another, it is possible to engineer vehicles so that they can synchronize with one another, which is known as “platooning.” This means that highway congestion can be lessened by having autonomous vehicles communicate with one another when they detect roadblocks and maintain an appropriate distance from one another. Platooning, when possible, may permit vehicles to travel faster and may save a great deal of travel time.

3. More Easily Located Parking Spots

Eventually, self-driving cars will be able to take you to your destination and find the closest parking spot, saving you time and avoiding stress. Since the vehicle will know precisely where to park, it will not increase congestion by driving around in circles on its search.

4. Transportation for Those Who Cannot Drive

For minors not yet of driving age, the elderly, the disabled, or those who are intoxicated, self-driving cars can be a godsend, offering safe, accessible transportation. As the population ages, society tries to cope with the painful process of denying driving privileges to elderly people who lose the cognition or coordination to drive safely. With self-driving cars, this will no longer be an issue.

5. Stress-free Travel

Imagine not having to navigate to an unknown destination which, even with GPS, can be irritating. Imagine, too, the ability to visit family or friends without worrying about directions or obstacles in the road, and being able to entertain the kids or have a relaxed snack while traveling. You may even be able to read a book or catch up on work.

Cons of Self-Driving Cars

1. Exorbitant Cost

Although costs of research and development may lower once self-driving cars have been thoroughly vetted for safety, during the next decade they will be extremely high-priced. Because most of the population will not be able to afford autonomous vehicles, the majority of the cars on the road will still present the same dangers of human errors that have existed since automobiles were invented.

2. Technological Glitches 

As anyone with a computer knows, the most carefully programmed, well-maintained technological devices still have glitches that catch us unawares. One faulty code, improper update, defect in software, or computer virus can hamper the operating system, resulting in a malfunction that can cause a serious accident with tragic human toll.

3. Hackers

If past history of hacking offenses is any indication, there are myriad ways that hackers could interfere with self-driving vehicles. Not only can hackers insert programs that could cause accidents, but they can also collect personal and financial information about the owner of the vehicle.

4. Extreme Weather Conditions May Cause Sensor Failure

Unfortunately, Mother Nature may have the upper hand even when it comes to technology.  Sensors frequently fail during drastic weather events, such as blizzards, powerful rainstorms, sleet, or fog. Though it may seem that having technology in charge may be an advantage when a storm interferes with your visibility, being caught in such weather in an autonomous vehicle may increase your risk of being seriously injured.

5. Elimination of Certain Job Opportunities

As in other areas in which technology has replaced human workers, the increasing prevalence of self-driving cars is likely to eventually cut into the need for jobs like:

  • Taxi drivers
  • Rideshare drivers
  • Truck drivers
  • Bus drivers
  • Gas station attendants

Well into the future, even co-pilot jobs could become obsolete. Because self-driving vehicles are electric, the gasoline industry as a whole may take a huge economic hit.

6. Questions of Liability 

From the standpoint of Compass Law Group, an important question looms behind all the pros and cons of self-driving autos: Who is responsible for damages in a self-driving car accident? Although there are no fully autonomous cars on the road and all are supposed to be fully monitored while traveling, there have already been accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities involving self-driving vehicles. So far, such accidents have been handled on an individual basis; it is unclear how state and federal law will legislate such cases.

Been injured in a self-driving car accident? Contact Compass Law Group at Once

Whether you own a self-driving car or were injured by someone else’s vehicle, contact our experienced car accident attorneys today. We will explain the complexities involved, determine whether you have a viable case, and discuss your options. Most importantly, we will fight aggressively to protect your rights to the compensation you deserve.

Contact our Los Angeles self-driving car accident attorney to schedule a free, initial consultation.

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