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How will the law be written to address self-driving cars

It is only a matter of time until self-driving cars will be seen on Arizona streets and highways. If you don’t think so, or that it is only a matter of science fiction, consider this:

  • Several automakers are hard at work trying to perfect their version of an autonomous vehicle.
  • For the past few years, several states have granted automakers permission to test self-driving cars on public roads.
  • One car has made a cross country trip (from California to New York) with only a human driver along to make emergency adjustments.

Additionally, there are elements of self-driving cars already in place with today’s models. If you choose a car with park assist, lane integrity systems, blind spot warning systems and automatic braking, you can see how these can easily factor into an autonomous car.

So even with the eventual arrival of self-driving cars, the question of who (or what) will be held liable in the event of an accident must be answered. After all, there are many who will believe that an accident involving an autonomous car should be a products liability issue, since technology failings may be the culprit in a crash.

However, there may be those who believe that despite the autonomous features, a human should be in control at all times, and that the failure to meet this requirement is a failure to use reasonable care; and because of this, it is a matter of negligence where the human driver should be held liable.

It remains to be seen how the law will be worked out to answer these questions.

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