Driverless Cars – How Will the Law Catch Up?

Several years ago, mobile phone showed up on the landscape of everyday life. At first they were clunky and relatively expensive both to purchase and to operate, but as they became more accessible, they also showed up where they began to cause unexpected problems – on the road causing motor vehicle accidents.

It took years for Ontario’s laws to catch up with the reality that calling, texting and driving don’t mix. But that’s certain not to be the last time the law catches up to technology.

Computer-driven Cars

What about cars without drivers? It’s not just an idea or concept – they’ve been testing them on the roads of California for about four years now and the Department of Motor Vehicles has only found out how many of them there are on the streets recently. The DMV just issued testing permits for three companies who have already got them on the road. The companies include Google (naturally), Mercedes and Volkswagen.

For now, trips with the computer-driven cars always include the presence of a human “safety driver” as a back-up in case the on-board computer makes the wrong – yet presumably logical – decision. The vehicles navigate using a complex system of sensors and very detailed maps. It was 2012 that the government ordered the DMV to come up with ways to regulate the new technology; the regulations went into place only recently. Other stipulations include:

  • The safety drivers must have a clean driving record and complete a training program.
  • $5 million in insurance for each vehicle.
  • Companies must report how many times the vehicles unexpectedly disengage from self-driving mode, whether it happens due to the technology or to the human driver taking over.

The vehicles are only in testing mode so far; more legislation is due to be drafted by the end of the year to handle the situation once they’re on the road for good.

The Law as a Moving Target

It is complicated enough to work out what should happen after a motor vehicle accident of any kind. When new technology and unforeseen conditions crop up – as they can at any time – things can get complicated and even legislators oftentimes need to catch up with new realities. Even more often, laws change and the interpretation of them occurs over time as the courts then have to catch up.

Where does it leave you?

Driver-less cars may seem like a faraway occurrence but even without brand new complications, every case is unique and involves many factors. The text book approach just doesn’t apply in most cases. That’s why you need expert help on your side.

You need someone in your corner. Contact Petrillo Law today by calling (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation with an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer. We look forward to hearing from you.

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