Technology has repeatedly been used to improve road safety across the world, from seat belts and air-bags to a multitude of different sensors and driver aids to assist the human driver.
This could all be about to change again, however, with a new law passed this summer in Texas potentially heralding the start of the end for this human element.
The Inevitable Rise of the Machines
With Uber, Lyft, Google and several leading car manufacturers pushing the concept of automated cars for several years already, billions of dollars have already been invested into this race to develop the first reliable and fully self-sufficient driverless vehicles.
The future appears to now more a question of when rather than if driverless cars will enter the public market. To help hasten this advancement, former attorney and now Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill which clearly states that driverless vehicles are legally permitted to operate on the roads and highways of Texas.
With no specific law banning the use of driverless cars in Texas, automated cars have been tested across the State. While most of these most tests have previously been restricted to closed settings, Google famously carried out legal testing of one of their prototypes through the streets of Austin in 2015.
A Legal Quandary
The new bill specifies that any automated vehicles which are used on the highways must be fully capable of complying with all current road laws and be insured to the same way a regular car is. If any of these laws of the road are broken or damage is caused by the fault of the vehicle, the company who designed and manufactured the product will assume full liability.
At present, the regulations set out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) do not easily translate to the use of automated vehicles on public highways. Almost half of the 73 individual safety standards specify the driver of the vehicle and while this could be transferred to the manufacturer, it’s still viewed as a loophole which urgently needs addressing.
A Brighter Tomorrow
With road safety hitting the headlines in recent years due to sharp increases in the number of car accident injury and fatalities occurring on roads across the country, this new technology could prove to be a revolutionary step forward in public safety. On average there are currently over 100 people dying on American roads each day. This figure and the scale of the problem is shocking, yet despite changes to legislation and educational campaigns, it’s a number which refuses to dwindle.
With additional benefits for the elderly, disabled and other sections of society who currently find their mobility restricted, there’s also a very human factor amongst the reasons we should pursue this third revolution in transportation.
With the dawn of the future seemingly upon us and the likes of Ford, Tesla, and General Motors determined to be at the front of the queue, America could solve a major global issue and provide another choice in the way we use technology.
Brad Richardson enjoys writing about legal and law issues. He’s a regular contributor to numerous websites regarding important issues within the legal industry. Tate Law Offices specialize in personal injuries. If you’re the victim of a car accident injury, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced law firm, like Tate.