There is no doubt that the auto industry is dealing with significant changes. Over recent years, the development of self-driving car technology and the rise in popularity of ridesharing services has brought many companies to reconsider how they conduct their business. As technology continues to develop, so too will changes in associated industries.
One of the central questions regarding self-driving vehicles on the road is one of liability. Generally, when there is an accident the driver who caused it is liable for the damages. But what if the car has no driver? The majority of the companies who are developing self-driving technology like Google, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz have said that they will accept full responsibility and liability if any of their products are found to be the cause of an accident. This will continue to be important, especially as changes in policy reflect changes in the markets.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently established new policies regarding self-driving vehicles. While these policies specify that safety should always be the greatest concern for car companies developing and testing self-driving vehicles, data shows that the vast majority of accidents on the road are caused as a result of human error. Unfortunately, the intersection of human drivers and autonomous driving programs can end poorly. This was recently exemplified in an accident in California where one of Google’s self-driving cars was hit when a human driver ran a red light.
Theoretically, the more the human element of driving is removed from the road, the safer the roads will become. However, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are becoming more popular than ever and they rely on human drivers (for now, at least). There are also companies that allow multiple people to use and operate a single vehicle. While this means there will be fewer cars on the road, it presents an interesting challenge for insurance companies.
The general thought is that insurance companies will have to adapt their policies to reflect the way in which a vehicle is driven and how much it is driven rather than who the owner of the vehicle is. Some companies are even implementing policies that allow drivers to pay-per-mile.
As the industries change, so will the conditions for drivers on the road. If you are to be involved in any personal injury accidents, you will want the assistance of a legal professional who is familiar with the changing policies and regulations regarding the developing self-driving car industry and the rise of ridesharing companies to assist you.