For a few years now, people have been excitedly discussing the idea of self-driving cars as prestige vehicle brands introduced features that allow vehicles to operate with less human management. Although the idea of vehicles driving themselves seems scary, research seems to indicate that it could actually make the roads safer.
Many public safety experts are quick to point out how frequently human error factors into crashes, making self-driving vehicles seem like a solution for the deadly wrecks that happen every day.
While well-designed and properly programmed self-driving vehicles could potentially save the public, faulty design and bad programming might mean that these vehicles actually cause crashes.
Who would cover the costs if a self-driving vehicle hurts you?
This question is no longer simply a rhetorical one. Tesla recently announced a recall and incoming software patch for some of its cars and SUVs. The self-driving program integrated into these vehicles has a serious issue.
Specifically, it does not always bring a vehicle to a complete stop at an intersection and may instead roll through stop signs. The problem with this approach is obvious. Vehicles have to stop when traffic signs or lights instruct them to do so. Failing to stop might mean that the driver is held responsible for any crash that results.
The insurance of the driver who let the vehicle take over their travels will cover the costs someone experiences in a crash like that. However, in some cases, like a crash caused by faulty software, the manufacturer themselves may have some liability as well.
You don’t know if a driver has automation software or bad driving habits
As someone in another vehicle, you can’t tell from a quick glance whether the person with their hands off of their steering wheel is irresponsibly texting while driving or making use of a self-driving system in their vehicle.
Drivers can potentially protect themselves from these rolling stop crashes by erring on the side of caution if they see someone with their hands off the wheel. Waiting a few extra seconds before proceeding through an intersection might save you from getting into a motor vehicle collision caused by a self-driving vehicle with faulty software.