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Regulating Driverless Roads: What Can We Expect?

California recently proposed new rules that may literally block the roads for driverless cars. If approved, these rules could delay the production of driverless cars as manufacturers make the necessary changes and updates. Currently, Google is protesting the state’s initial announcement, mainly because a licensed driver would be required to ride in the front seat of a self-driving car anytime it is in operation.

Currently, California is one of only a few states that has allowed manufacturers to test their autonomous cars on public roads. Once the testing period is over, however, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is ready to tighten up and issue a series of restrictions on how and when these cars can be used, as well as who can operate them. The state’s Senate Bill 1298 details the proposed requirements, which have not yet been set in stone. The CA DMV has agreed to host two public workshops to get feedback from manufacturers and the public before moving forward.

What Will Be Regulated?

The bill covers vehicle safety, operator responsibility, licenses and registration, cyber-security, privacy and certification, and the stipulations for all categories may restrict the pool of candidates who will be eligible to use a self-driving car. According to the DMV’s directors, the primary focus of these regulations will be to promote safety in autonomous vehicles and on the roads around them.

Autonomous car manufacturers would be required to certify that their vehicles are in compliance with performance and safety standards, and the vehicles would need to be evaluated by a third-party performance verifier. Any car that is designed to operate without a driver cannot receive a license from the CDMV unless the car’s safety and performance can be certified.

Personal Liability?

Regulating safety features in driverless cars is one way to ensure that all these vehicles will be operating under the same standards, but California is also looking to add a dual-control safety feature behind the wheel — an actually licensed driver. If the proposed regulations are put into effect, every self-driving car will have to have a licensed driver behind the wheel at all times of use.

This requirement has created a great deal of tension — autonomous car manufacturers say that requiring a licensed driver behind the wheel defeats the purpose of a car that can drive itself, while supporters say that the regulation may clarify liability and blame in the event of an accident. Typically, liability is assigned to the person behind the wheel who causes the accident, but self-driving cars are not operated in the same way.

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Driverless cars may be the way of the future, but with the proposed regulations, that future may be a little farther off than manufacturers had hoped. 2016 will be a year of change for car manufacturers and drivers, and the Denver injury attorneys at Levine Law, a leading Colorado law firm, are here to help navigate these changes for anyone affected by them. If you have been injured as a result of another driver’s negligence or a manufacturing error or flaw, contact our attorneys for a consultation today.

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