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Questions Surface About Car Accident Data for Driverless Cars

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Six companies, including Google, are currently testing driverless vehicles on California roadways. The vehicles drive themselves through the use of lasers, sensors and other high tech gadgets designed to make the common car accident a rare occurrence.

New information has come out recently that four of the test vehicles have been in at least one car collision each while being operated in California. Following the revelation about the accidents, Google acknowledged that vehicles in its test program have chalked up 11 accidents in six years and almost two million miles of driving.

The state granted permission for testing of the vehicles on the condition that each company post a bond against potential liability for property damage and serious injury that could result from accidents in which test vehicles might be involved. One of the concerns has been that vehicles that drive themselves may lack the ability to avoid a car collision because they cannot react to cues from human drivers.

The state has added to speculation questioning the safety of driverless vehicles by refusing to release a car accident report for any of the four accidents that took place. Even though auto accident reports filed with the department of motor vehicles are public records, the state has refused to release them.

Under current state law, when car accidents occur, liability for damages suffered by an injured accident victim depends upon proving negligence on the part of one or more of the drivers. While mass production of driverless vehicles could result in changes to how liability will be assessed in the future, for the time being, a person injured in a car crash should seek legal advice and guidance from a Contra Costa County personal injury law firm.

Source: Quartz, "Google's driverless cars have been involved in four car accidents," Mark Harris, May 11, 2015