If you were to get into an accident in a self-driving car, who would be at fault for the collision? That is one of the primary questions that regulators must answer before autonomous vehicles are allowed on American roadways. The good news is that there are several viable ideas being considered that could resolve this issue.
Drivers May Be Charged per Ride for Insurance
Instead of having a car insurance policy that you make monthly or semiannual payments on, you may be charged a different rate for each ride that you take. If you are going to an area of town where the accident rate is higher, you may be charged more than if you are going someplace where the accident rate is lower. The likelihood of an accident or any other event that could trigger a claim would be determined by data stored by the vehicle itself.
Automakers Would Take Responsibility for Accidents
Many autonomous automakers such as Google and Volvo have said that they would take responsibility for any accidents for which their vehicles are at fault. In this scenario, there would be no need for a rider inside of a self-driving car to carry insurance as they would already be protected. These and other companies are willing to make such a guarantee because they believe that their vehicles will never be at fault for an accident.
Would It Be Necessary to Call for Help?
Theoretically, a self-driving car would be able to communicate with other vehicles or other objects nearby. As roads are made that cater to autonomous vehicles, additional infrastructure will be built to help guide them to their intended destination. If a vehicle can send and receive information, it is possible that it will send out a distress signal or use some other way to indicate that an accident has occurred. This may increase the odds that help arrives in a timely manner even if no one is around to call for police or other emergency personnel.
What About Human Drivers?
Presumably, a human driver would still need to carry auto insurance on his or her vehicle. While that person would likely pay a monthly premium for coverage, it may be less than what he or she is paying now. States would likely set minimum coverage amounts to ensure that they are protected in the event that they cause an accident involving a self-driving vehicle. Currently, self-driving cars are projected to be used as taxis or similar modes of public transportation. Therefore, insurance policies for human drivers would likely focus more on bodily injury and property damage coverage.
Federal Regulators Are Taking the Lead
Currently, local and state governments use a patchwork of rules to determine how autonomous vehicles can use the road. However, the federal government has started to take an interest in creating a uniform set of regulations aimed at easing the transition to self-driving vehicles. This approach may make it easier to answer questions related to liability in an accident or if a car is pulled over for violating a traffic law.
Self-driving cars are going to be increasingly common over the next 10 to 20 years. As cars intended to be operated by humans slowly fade away, the accident rate in America may drop. If an accident does occur, it is likely to involve two vehicles controlled by internal computers. Therefore, it is critical that state and federal regulators determine how to handle such crashes if and when they occur. Consulting with an experienced professional such as car accident lawyer locals trust is very important.