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Automated Cars on Florida Roadways

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Self-driving cars on Florida roadways? That’s what Florida lawmakers are hoping to see a lot of in coming months and years. Governor Scott signed 2016 legislation allowing riderless cars on the road, if only under controlled circumstances for now. This raises legal questions surrounding potential accidents. Who is at fault when one party is a computer?

The History of Florida’s Involvement with Automated Vehicles

Only the second state to show an interest in driverless vehicles, Florida now is working to tempt automakers into coming to Florida for their research projects involving this new technology. It is one of few states that does not require a permit to test or operate a driverless vehicle.

Originally, Florida laws simply required that anyone who held a valid driver’s license could operate one. Companies who tested these vehicles were required, however, to prove that they carried $5 million in insurance. But more recent legislation loosened the rules, no longer requiring a human operator’s presence in these vehicles, and no longer demanding the hefty insurance policy. In general, there are no additional licensing or operating requirements on Florida roadways these days.

Legislators, many of whom have experienced these vehicles first-hand, are hoping self-driving cars will lead to greater safety on the road.

Under study now is the use of what some consider second level autonomous cars, meaning those with cruise control and lane centering technology. That includes truck platooning, a system of linking vehicles by a predetermined distance in a train-like cooperative movement. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication is relied on for this new system, which promises to benefit cargo and trucking companies.

The Future of Automated Vehicles in Florida

 Ultimately, the plan is that self-driving cars could be accessed using an app, and they would be the taxis of the future. But in order for companies like Uber to invest in studying driverless car technology in Florida, a statewide law allowing Uber drivers throughout the state is needed. Currently, Uber is not operating statewide, suggesting that autonomous cars have a bit of a hurdle ahead before they are commonplace on Florida roadways.

Legal Questions

With new technology come new questions. Who will get the ticket when an accident does occur? One law professor believes that the shift of blame in auto accidents will shift from drivers to software developers and the automotive manufacturers who employ them. At question will be whether or not a human driver could have reasonably been expected to perform better than the automated driving system. Volvo, who is eagerly pursuing this technology, agrees that manufacturers will be liable for their products. They are happy to accept responsibility, noting that human error contributes to 94 percent of crashes.

But questions abound: Will more cars be on the road if humans don’t have to do the driving? Will vehicles accumulate more miles due to the convenience? That would almost certainly increase the expected number of accidents.

If modern technology results in damage to you, whether it be an automated vehicle or something else, the experienced personal injury team at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton in Florida is on your side. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.