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Self-Driving Cars Headed Your Way


Free-range robot cars: the semi-autonomous vehicles that are being tested by Audi, Ford, and others, have been successfully lured to Florida by lax laws here in the Sunshine State. Despite recent tragedies involving the driverless vehicles in other states, there seems to be no effort toward tougher regulations on the vehicles here in Florida.

Florida Regulation—or Lack Thereof

Companies who are experimenting with driverless vehicles clearly prefer states with less regulation governing their operations. States like Florida that do not require a human presence in the vehicle are like a breath of fresh air. As Florida State Representative Fischer rightly points out, the majority of fatal crashes in this country are due to driver error. Why not invite driverless vehicles into the state?

One Florida senator who led the drive to gain autonomous cars on Florida roadways unapologetically states that he sees no reason to tighten restrictions on these vehicles. Sen. Brandes points out that a recent fatality in Arizona involved an Uber vehicle that did have a safety driver on board to intervene in the event of an emergency. Because even with a human on board the accident could not be avoided, it seems useless to require humans in these vehicles.

Technology companies and automakers continue to put these vehicles on the road in Florida without drivers; they are not, however, required to report traffic accidents or other problems with these driverless vehicles. Conversely, states like California that allow driverless cars on public roads require, at a minimum, remote control of the cars by human operators. Additionally, accidents must be reported, as well as any events requiring human operators to take control of the vehicle.

The Self Drive Act

The Self Drive Act, a bipartisan plan in the Florida legislature, purports to achieve three key things. Time will tell whether or not these goals are achieved.

  • Improve safety standards and outcomes;
  • Confirm the role of government responsibility with regard to new technologies and consumer safety;
  • Provide new opportunities for economic growth;

 How Are Driverless Cars Being Used in Florida?

 There are innovative ways various companies are using these vehicles in Florida already:

  • Taxi services are offered by Voyage, giving residents in one retirement community of about 125,000 people rider-less transportation;
  • A tractor-trailer with no driver? You’ll find a Freightliner truck being monitored from afar, by a human watching live video feed and operating the vehicle remotely;
  • Ford is looking to provide driverless delivery services for Domino’s Pizza and Miami grocery stores,( although humans will be on board to make the deliveries).

 After an Accident

With an increasing number of these vehicles on the road, the likelihood of accidents with one goes up. If you are involved in such an incident, contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton in Daytona Beach for assistance in pursuing justice.