What to Know About Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars

Auto Accidents
What to Know About Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars

What to Know About Accidents Involving Self-Driving Cars

Let’s get one thing straight: There are currently no “self-driving cars” on the market. For now, it is little more than a marketing term used by companies to describe motor vehicles with highly sophisticated computers that offer varying degrees of assistance to a human driver. Even the notion of “autopilot” in passenger motor vehicles remains science fiction.

The reality is that today’s “self-driving cars” are no safer than any other modern vehicle. In fact, there is mounting evidence suggesting these vehicles may pose significantly higher safety risks to the public as drivers become too reliant on computerized assistance. In July 2022, National Public Radio reported that U.S. automakers reported “nearly 400 crashes of vehicles with partially automated driver-assist systems,” with nearly 70% involving cars made by Tesla, the company that has most aggressively promoted the “self-driving” concept in its marketing.

Driver Assistance Does Not Always Mean Safer Drivers

Using driver assistance technology does not absolve a driver of their legal responsibility to operate their vehicles safely. Indeed, many accidents with self-driving cars are the result of the same reckless behaviors as we see in crashes involving less technologically advanced vehicles. This includes:

  • Drunk Driving: Alcohol and drug use affects a person’s ability to safely operate any motor vehicle, and the presence of driver-assistance technologies does not compensate for this fact.
  • Distracted Driving: Drivers have always been prone to distractions that take their attention off of the road, and driver assistance, in many cases, has exacerbated this problem.
  • Fatigue: Along similar lines, driver assistance can give a driver a false sense of security when they are too tired to drive.

In addition to a driver’s liability for causing an accident while in a “self-driving” car, the manufacturer of such vehicles may also be responsible for a crash. At the end of the day, these cars are just consumer products. And the manufacturer of any consumer product can be held responsible under Illinois law if a manufacturing, design, or marketing defect leads to injury.

Here are just some of the potential product liability issues that can arise from an accident involving a “self-driving” car:

  • The sensors in the driver assistance system fail to properly identify a human or another vehicle in its path.
  • The occupants of a driver-assisted vehicle are injured because a computer malfunction leads to excessive speeding or the car hitting a stationary object.
  • A software update to the vehicle’s computer system introduces a bug or critical failure.

It is important to note that Illinois has adopted legislation in anticipation of a future where 100% autonomous vehicles are available and traveling on the state’s roads. These laws provide that liability for such accidents will be decided under product liability laws as opposed to traditional principles of driver negligence.

Speak With a Mount Prospect Car Accident Attorney Today

Regardless of the type of vehicle involved, if you are injured in a car crash caused by another driver or company’s negligence, you have the right to demand appropriate compensation. The Cook County automobile accident lawyers at SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, can review your case and apprise you of your options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.





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