We have reported more than once about the burgeoning industry of “smart cars” or “self driving cars.” Google has been especially aggressive in developing this new technology. Changes are already apparent with existing newer models. Many people are starting to wonder how this will affect legal issues regarding responsibility for injuries sustained in collisions. Will the computer programmer or software company be responsible if a smart car fails to avoid a collision?
Another question is insurance rates. Insurance, especially auto insurance, is regulated on a state level. One state may require certain provisions are coverage, and another state may not. For example, Washington State does not require auto insurance companies to provide personal injury protection benefits to all of its customers, although it must provide the option for personal injury protection coverage. On the other hand, Oregon requires auto insurers to provide this coverage to its motorists.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit, auto insurer funded group, does not see insurance rates coming down anytime soon, even in light of the new crash avoidance systems like backup cameras, and collision avoidance technology. For one reason, it is getting more expensive to repair damaged cars with all this computer hardware on board. Second, many car owners become frustrated with the beeps and whistles of false alarms, and simply turn this technology off.
However, recent studies show a positive change. The non-profit group admits that one and three fatal collisions and one of five injury producing collisions could be prevented if all passenger vehicles on the road were equipped with some type of safety feature that warned a motorist of dangerous lane changes, blind spots, or rear end collisions. Also, automakers who install this technology report up to 15% fewer accidents in its models with the safety technology on board.
The bottom line is that these vehicles, even with new and advanced safety features, are still operated by human beings, and as we all know, human beings are fallible. Rates of collisions may decrease over time, but will never go away.