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One of the big selling points for self-driving cars was safety. If you had computers making quick decisions rather than drowsy, distracted, or drunk drivers, you'd expect there to be fewer accidents. But that hasn't always been the case.
When you hear about human "drivers" watching Hulu behind the wheel while an autonomous vehicle hits and kills a pedestrian, you start to wonder who's driving "self-driving" cars, and whether self-driving really means safe driving. So, here are some of the most common questions regarding liability in autonomous car accidents, and where to look for answers.
In many ways, your to-do list following an accident will be the same regardless of whether a person or a program was behind the wheel. First, make sure everyone is OK or is receiving medical attention. Contact the police if there are severe damage or injuries. Then document the accident and gather as much information as you can about what happened.
In some cases, the victim of a self-driving car accident is the person in the driver's seat. Joshua Brown was killed when a tractor-trailer turned in front of his Tesla while it was in autopilot mode. That car should've been capable of cruising, maintaining a lane, and braking if traffic appeared in front of it, but Brown's Model S allegedly went so fast through the trailer the truck driver didn't even see it. Brown was also apparently watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the accident.
Sadly, Brown isn't the only Tesla operator who was killed in a collision with a tractor trailer. And it may be because the company's self-driving software relies only upon the vehicle's own sensors without incorporating detailed map information.
But Tesla isn't the only player in the autonomous vehicle game. And some other manufacturers are more willing to accept liability for malfunctions in their driving systems when operating autonomously. What happens if they don't?
Sorting out responsibility in even a simple fender bender can turn into a legal nightmare. And that's before you try to figure out whether a car's computer was in charge at the time of a collision.
If you've been involved in an accident with a self-driving or autonomous vehicle, contact an experienced car accident attorney today.