The Dawn of Driverless Cars in Nevada, and Perhaps the San Francisco Bay Area

During your commute do you ever long to finish that novel you started six months ago, or play on your iPad, or start knitting that sweater for your 6 year old nephew, or finish that report your boss asked for last week, or unwrap and take a bite out of the tuna sandwich you made for lunch? If you live in Nevada, you can. Nevada just passed a law requiring the Nevada DMV to set guidelines for a person to obtain an autonomous vehicle driver’s license. So, sometime in future, anyone in Nevada longing to unleash the rebel inside will finally get to feel the pleasure of driving and texting with a cop driving right behind them. Just think of it, it’s like giving the finger to the existing rules your driving instructor hammered into your brain, rules having to do with keeping your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel, the very rules created to maintain order and safety on our roads. The creators and supporters of the law, and the cars, contend that the driverless car can speed up traffic times, invite greater packing of cars sharing the road, give city’s the opportunity to take in more cars, allow drivers more free time to work or enjoy their commute, and, most importantly, save lives by reducing traffic accidents caused by careless or inattentive (or even drunk) drivers. We’ll see what other amendments get tacked on to this law once the driverless cars are bought and driven. Really, how much can a driver sit back and not pay attention? What if the car malfunctions and an accident occurs? Will Google and auto manufacturers be exempt from liability when software or hardware malfunctions and causes an accident? Some economic experts suggest that a company may be not be so willing to accept legal liability associated with selling driverless cars and may not want to invest significant capital to help further the technology.

There are some other issues to consider as well. What if one these robotic cars breaks a traffic law? Who pays the fine then? How will they handle in some sort of unpredictable situation? Then who is responsible, the human or the car? Are we ready as a society to allow robots to control our live and to blindly accept they will keep us safe? More of these types of questions will present themselves down the road (pardon the pun) to be sure. How the law is interpreted and analyzed when it shows up in a courtroom, and how it morphs over time, and whether the law will be interpreted how the legislature intended will be interesting to watch. Because, like every law with its plain language, the courts will, most likely, have to decide what protections are applicable to car owners and their manufacturers and who is liable for negligence after an accident. The legal community will also have ample opportunity to examine and reexamine the language of the law. The next important question is: when will California pass its own hands free law?

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a car accident, we are here to help the victims of any type of accident-no matter the type of car or cause. Our firm has over 10 years experience and is dedicated to helping victims of car accidents pursue compensation for their losses and damages.