February 27, 2020

Public Blames Drivers of Autonomous Cars for Accidents - Lawyers.com Blog

Autonomous cars are slowly becoming more common. Currently, autonomous cars must be operated with a driver in the car to take over control at any moment. While many state laws must catch up to autonomous car technology, an international research team looked at the general views of the public when an autonomous car is in an accident. The research team looked specifically at opinions on who or what was more to blame in the event of an accident involving an autonomous car.

The team found that in cases where there was a human driver at the controls of an autonomous car, most respondents thought that the driver was more at-fault for the accident than the manufacturer of the car. The team looked specifically at cases where both the human and the autonomous car made mistakes and even though they were told that the autonomous car made a mistake, the respondents still blamed the driver.

Legal Consequences of Placing Blame
As a result of these findings, the team concluded that if blame was put squarely into the hands of jury members, there is potential to blame drivers more often than manufacturers, even when there was a defect in the artificial intelligence of the car. This could be because the general public is not accustomed to attributing the cause of a car accident with a faceless company. Normally, where a car accident occurred, people naturally want to blame another person for the accident.

Although blaming other people may be more in tune with human nature, it could enable manufacturers to become less diligent about safety. This suggests a need for state legislation addressing these issues and outlining the instances where a manufacturer is at-fault. Since autonomous cars are still making their way onto American roads, many legal issues concerning the cars and people who sit in the driver’s seat during a car accident are still unclear. Laws and clear jury instructions regarding how to attribute fault in accidents with autonomous cars are necessary to determine the fate of drivers and manufacturers who choose to develop autonomous vehicles.

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