BOISE and NAMPA, Idaho. According to the Idaho Statesman, Michigan lawmakers recently voted to permit driverless vehicles to operate on public roads without having a researcher present in the car. The changes in the law will make Michigan one of the few states to allow driverless vehicles on the road without a human in the car to avert an accident. Lawmakers claim that requiring a human operator inside the car limits research and development.
Autonomous vehicle technology remains a hotly debated issue. Driverless cars, when they work properly, can eliminate personal injury accidents and deaths due to driver error. Many accidents occur due to human error. However, some argue that the technology is still in the development stage and therefore has not been proven to have an adequate safety record. There have been cases where autonomous vehicles failed to distinguish between glare and other vehicles, leading to accidents.
According to Business Insider, some autonomous manufacturers haven’t yet clarified to consumers how cars would behave should they encounter a murky ethical situation. For instance, while it is a rare event, it isn’t clear what a driverless vehicle would do in a case where the car would have to “choose” between preserving the lives of the passengers in the car or the lives of pedestrians on the road. Imagine a scenario where a driverless car is moving along a cliff side road. A pedestrian suddenly walks into the street. The car can turn and hurl itself off the cliff, endangering the passengers, or hit the pedestrian. What should it do? It is a tough moral question that even ethicists and philosophers debate.
Car and Driver claimed that Mercedes said that its own driverless cars would prioritize the safety of passengers over other road users. However, Mercedes later said that this was a misquote and that it would be illegal for a car to endanger other road users. Mercedes explained that its vehicles would operate in a manner that would “maintain the highest possible safety for all road users.” However, it isn’t clear what the cars would do in a case where a choice must be made.
Car manufacturers say that they are continuing to discuss the ethical implications of their vehicles. As it stands, it isn’t clear who would be liable in the event where a pedestrian or biker was injured by an autonomous vehicle. The Law Office of Johnson & Lundgreen are closely watching the law to see what legal implications the proliferation of autonomous vehicles will have on personal injury law.
As it stands, drivers and passengers continue to have a responsibility for their own safety behind the wheel in Idaho. Even when cars have autonomous accident avoidance mechanisms, drivers need to be alert behind the wheel. Individuals have a responsibility to protect themselves and each other. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, visit http://johnsonandlundgreen.com/ today to learn more about your rights and options.