Adam Kutner Looks at Reasonable Care and Robotic Cars
When Nevada became the first state to authorize the testing of autonomous vehicles on the state’s roads, the legislature and department of motor vehicles had to address changes to some long-established rules of driver conduct. After all, autonomous vehicles are driverless, so who is responsible in the event of an accident? That is a question asked by attorney Adam Kutner and other members of the legal profession.
The state legislature legalized testing of self-driving cars in response to Google’s work with robotic technology. According to Google, its robotic cars have been test driven more than 140,000 miles. Some of the test cars have traveled more than 1,000 miles each without any human control. After acknowledging that one of its test cars was involved in an accident, Google was quick to point out that a person was controlling the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Las Vegas attorney Adam Kutner knows that drivers must use reasonable care in operating their motor vehicles within the state. The duty of reasonable care includes being in control of the vehicle at all times and keeping a proper lookout for other vehicles or pedestrians using the roads. Speeding, texting and failing to signal turns and lane changes have usually been associated with a driver who was not exercising reasonable care and control.
The licensing of driverless cars changes some of the rules of the road and driver responsibilities that Adam Kutner and other personal injury attorneys have worked with for years. For example, a person seated in the driver’s seat of a robotic car is not technically driving, so texting is permitted. The new laws also make that person legally responsible for the vehicle’s actions.
Right now, the new legislation merely authorizes the state to license companies, such as Google, to test the self-driving cars on Nevada roads. The vehicles will have red license plates to distinguish them from conventional vehicles. Test cars must have two people in them when in operation. One of those people must have the ability to seize control of the car in an emergency and must meet new licensing requirements for driverless vehicle operators.
Addressing liability concerns that Las Vegas personal injury attorneys might have, the new laws require the posting of a one million dollar bond before a company can test one of the vehicles on the road. When the cars are ready for sale to consumers, the state will be ready with a green license plate and a new license for drivers who want to operate them.
As companies such as Google, Audi and others roll out their driverless test vehicles, personal injury attorneys and the courts will eventually have to address the legal issues this new technology will certainly bring. One future issue could concern texting and the way the courts will handle a case where the operator of a driverless vehicle is distracted by texting. Time will tell if the same standard of reasonable care and keeping a proper lookout will apply.
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