Although these are not yet laws, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) released guidelines encouraging states to expand legislation on their own level that address self-driving vehicles. The NHTSA created the new guidelines in an effort to help prevent possible accidents as self-driving vehicles are introduced to America's roadways.
Currently North Carolina does not have pending legislation addressing self-driving vehicles.
The NHTSA guidelines for self-driving vehicles include:
- Mandating that a driver be present in a self-driving car and have the ability to take over control of the vehicle if necessary
- Creating training and license requirements for the back-up driver in the use and operation of a self-driving vehicle
- Making operation of self-driving cars for testing purposes only
Car accident lawyers in Raleigh first heard about self-driving vehicles a few years ago, but started to pose liability questions when Google announced their prototypes testing in Nevada in early 2012. Determining fault in a traditional car accident is not always inherently obvious and may require an investigation. Think about the implications that an accident with a self-driving vehicle would involve: Was the accident the result of an outside factor (weather, debris, another negligent driver), a computer or mechanical malfunction (faulty manufacturing, improper maintenance), or was the vehicle overloaded? These are just a few potential scenarios that could pose risks for passengers in a self-driving vehicle. The owner of the self-driving vehicle may be held responsible in certain situations.
Even with the as yet unknown risks that may be coming with the advent of self-driving vehicles, they may prove to be a blessing for many Americans. For the elderly or disabled who cannot drive themselves to grocery stores or doctor visits, self-driving cars may bring new freedoms. Since the technology is so new and developing, there is still a great need to be careful.
If you're concerned about how self-driving vehicles may affect the safety of people using the roads of North Carolina, contact your legislators and follow our Raleigh car accident lawyers on Facebook and Twitter to hear about changes as they take place.