Some say driver-less cars are many years away. Others contend that the technology is already here but human acceptance is not. Google's self-driving cars are already on the road. To say that the car is largely a success is an understatement. In theory, occupying such a vehicle allows the occupants to sleep, surf the internet, chat on the phone, watch internet television or actually do productive work while commuting. Think Lincoln Lawyer- only without the human chauffeur.
So will it happen? Technology to date suggests that automated cars make fewer mistakes than humans. But self-driving cars raise major questions of social significance, mainly, will it interfere with personal injury lawyers ability to make a living? For example, will lawyers still be able to bring law suits or will there be mandatory arbitration clauses to govern compensation for injuries?
Today, if an accident happens, the driver is the subject of legal scrutiny. Drives are also held to certain standards such as not driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or distraction. With driver-less cars, is it suddenly acceptable to drink and ride? Do distracted driving laws become obsolete over night? Perhaps more troublesome is the quality of the individual who actually programs the vehicle to react when an emergency occurs. As a driver, we may make a split second decision when faced with an emergency presenting a moral dilemma? For example, when the computer has a choice of hitting a pedestrian and saving the driver or steering into oncoming traffic to avoid the pedestrian, the decision seems to place God-like power in the hands of a computer programmer back at the factory. Manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz have already written programs that make the decision for the automated cars. They choose the safety of the driver. LINK Will the Mercedes Benz software choose the same option that you would have made if you were behind the wheel? Moreover, should the government step in and mandate the choice the car manufacturer's software makes in emergency situations?
Time will tell as to the moral issues. As to the legal issues, you can bet that the lawyers will find someone to try to hold responsible for accidents and their shrinking bank accounts.