Self-driving cars may have once been deemed something out of a science fiction novel, but these days companies are increasingly developing semi-autonomous vehicles that can be used on the streets and highways of Indiana and across the nation. Some may claim that, because they reduce the chance of human error, autonomous vehicles are safer than traditional vehicles and will result in fewer motor vehicle accidents.
Certain types of automated safety technologies are already common features in many automobiles. These technologies include back-up cameras, lane centering assistance and automatic emergency braking. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, by the year 2025 we may see vehicles with fully automated safety features and highway autopilot.
However, it is not unheard of for a semi-autonomous vehicle to cause an accident that injures or kills another individual. Therefore, these vehicles are heavily tested and must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. There is still much to do to make sure that autonomous vehicles are safe before they can be made available to the general public.
Another question that is yet to be resolved is who can be held liable if an autonomous vehicle causes a car accident. Will the company that designed or manufactured the vehicle be liable? If the vehicle was semi-autonomous and had a human operator, would that person be liable? These are issues that are still being sorted out.
In the end, while many vehicles already contain automated safety features, and the testing of semi-autonomous vehicles is in the works, much remains to be seen with regards to whether these vehicles will truly lower the number of motor vehicle accidents on our roads. And, when one of these vehicles does cause a collision, the issue of liability becomes very complex. For these reasons, it may be years before fully automated vehicles are a common sight on America's streets and highways.