Traffic Circles, Pedestrians, and Self-Driving Cars

UTAH. According to Fox 13, members of Utah’s state legislature recently visited Utah State University’s research center for autonomous vehicles. The legislators took a look at vehicles that were both electric and autonomous, cars that researchers hope will revolutionize the way we drive in Utah. They rode in the vehicles, a signal that lawmakers may be soon ready to embrace the new and controversial technology.

Yet, lawmakers are moving forward cautiously. They are concerned about safety and liability concerns with self-driving vehicles. The general public is also skeptical about ceding their autonomy behind the wheel to an autonomous vehicle.

Leading researchers are also still trying to work out issues that continue to give self-driving cars difficulty. A New York Times reporter discovered for himself how challenging a traffic circle can be for self-driving vehicles. While riding in a vehicle on testing grounds in Ann Arbor, the self-driving vehicle came to a complete stop and would not move forward into the traffic circle. Traffic circles are notoriously difficult problems for self-driving cars.

Pedestrians are another problem. While most self-driving vehicles are programmed to be cautious around intersections and when navigating around pedestrians, it still isn’t clear how self-driving vehicles would behave in a situation where the computer had to choose between protecting a passenger and protecting a pedestrian or bicyclist.

Others express concerns about bugs, coding errors, runtime errors, or other issues that could result in a car malfunctioning. It has been shown that some self-driving cars are surprisingly easy to hack. While self-driving cars may be able to eliminate most human error from the equation when it comes to car accidents, the cars may raise new concerns—such as defective product injuries or terrorist attacks that target our cars.

As it stands, most major companies outside Silicon Valley remain optimistic, but cautious about releasing driverless vehicles onto the road. It isn’t fully clear how driverless vehicles will impact personal injury law, but it is likely that driverless vehicle accidents will change some of the ways accident law is handled. For example, claims against drivers may become claims against manufacturers for defective products.

The New York Times reports that no driverless car company has a perfectly clean record in testing. Optimists claim, however, that these cars have the potential to save thousands of lives every year. But will they? The general public might accept it when their computers freeze or shut down unexpectedly, but if their self-driving car does the same, lives may be in the balance.

Only time will tell. Until then, the Truman Law Firm, P.C. are Utah personal injury lawyers who are closely watching the development of these vehicles. If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Utah, or have been hurt due to another person or party’s negligence, consider speaking to the lawyers at the Truman Law Firm, P.C. Visit our website to learn more about how we may be able to help you seek the recovery you may deserve.