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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Self-Driving Cars and Shuttles: The Future of Navigating New York?

December 29, 2020 in

Will autonomous vehicles ever be a viable mode of transportation in the busy city of New York? Below, the auto accident attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. challenge the liability of self-driving cars and trucks, and whether or not they would lead to more or less accidents if adopted in the city.


What are Autonomous Vehicles?


Autonomous vehicles are cars and/or trucks that have the capability to navigate roadways without the assistance of a human driver. Often called self-driving cars, these vehicles can sense their environment in order to have little impact on pedestrians, other vehicles and the surroundings. The concept of driverless vehicles first became prevalent in society with the introduction of Tesla’s new autopilot and traffic-aware cruise control technology, but is now being adopted by companies aiming to produce self-driving shuttles and other modes of transportation. 


What are the Liability Issues Surrounding Autonomous Vehicles?


Due to the traffic-sensing nature of autonomous vehicles, many proponents tote their heightened safety compared to the human error involved in operating manual vehicles. However, there have been reported collisions caused by self-driving vehicles in the past, which is where liability becomes murky. In a Scientific American article titled “Who’s Responsible When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?” it states, “When a computerized driver replaces a human one, experts say the companies behind the software and hardware sit in the legal liability chain—not the car owner or the person’s insurance company. Eventually, and inevitably, the carmakers will have to take the blame.” 


In other words, the software and vehicle manufacturers are expected to be liable for any at-fault collisions rather than the humans behind the wheel. For example, luxury vehicle company Volvo had announced that it will pay for any injuries or damage caused by its fully autonomous cars, which they are in the process of developing. As autonomous vehicles gain more acceptance on our roads, it is important for their occupants to realize the liability behind these vehicles and seek legal counsel if their self-driving car were to cause a collision—as the owner, you and your insurance company may not be liable for any damages caused.


Do Self-Driving Vehicles Cause More or Less Accidents?


It is currently difficult to state undoubtedly whether or not autonomous vehicles will lead to more or less accidents, especially in bustling New York City. While they are entering the limelight—self-driving shuttles have been incorporated for testing on New York private campuses, and the state itself legalized tests of autonomous vehicles in 2017—they are far from reaching a status deemed “safer” than our current mode of operating our vehicles manually.


In an article titled “Do self-driving vehicles have a future in New York?” published in City & State New York, author Annie McDonough writes, “while those in the tech industry often complain that government regulation is slowing down innovation, in the case of self-driving cars, it seems that the technology is just not ready to hit the highways and, especially, the streets of New York City.” While self-driving cars may become commonplace in years to come, it will be after extensive time and research is invested into conducting their efficacy. This will ensure the utmost security of these robo-cars potentially traversing the Big Apple. 


Navigate Your Complex Legal Issue Smoothly with SPBMCC


At Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C., we advocate for the interests of our clients. Our skilled auto accident attorneys closely follow changes in regulations and trends in order to best serve those involved in collisions. If you or a loved one has been injured in an automotive accident in New York City where the other driver was at fault, do not hesitate to call (212)-732-9000 or contact us here to schedule a free consultation.

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