Recently, self-driving cars have been receiving a lot of attention. Tesla has definitely set the stage for what cars are set to follow for the next few years. You can even see Tesla’s impact in the taxi world, as recently taxi mogul Uber launched a research branch for testing self-driving cabs in Toronto.

In the legal world, self-driving cars pose an interesting legal question, Who is liable if a self-driving car gets into an accident? This question really came to fruition when the Tesla Autopilot limitations played a huge role in a fatal crash in May of 2016.

You can read that article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/tesla-autopilot-crash-ntsb-1.4287026

The major reason that self-driving cars are becoming increasingly important to the car-market is because many claim that the self-driving cars are safer than human drivers. The death and injuries in self-driving cars so far are staggeringly low, being nowhere comparable to the numbers in human-controlled driving.

However, recently the Trump administration decided to update their policy on self-driving safety guidelines, handing the majority of the responsibility for safety guidelines over to the automobile industry and the companies that make the cars. This change, that happened last week, is even more lax than the policies issued by the Obama administration.

“The language is very much written in a way to make it seem like nothing that they are putting in there is an actual regulation. It’s kind of like vague guidelines,” says Mike Ramsey, research director with Gartner, a technology research firm.

The new guidelines are called the ‘Automated Driving Systems 2.0’ these new guidelines include a 12 point safety checklist. This checklist includes priorities like the vehicles must be able to detect and respond to objects in front and nearby. This includes, pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, and objects that could affect safe operations of the vehicle. Companies are only encouraged to have a system in place that makes drivers pay attention to the road- even if the car is completely driving itself.

Canada hasn’t really ventured into the legal proceedings and policies of these kinds of cars, but a Canadian expert says this might be the best route.

Paul Godsmark, a member of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE) thinks that this is actually the best and safest route. Basically, CAVCOE provides consulting services, analysis, and recommendations to the government, public sector, private agencies, and automated vehicle deployment.

Godsmark is of the opinion that this allows companies to ‘take the wheel’, literally. He says that it isn’t practical to safety-test these vehicles in a controlled environment for the time needed to reach the approved amount of time acceptable for the safety standards.

He also thinks that the this is the best option because it is in their best interest to over test their products because their business survival depends on it.

I don’t know if I agree with this point, but he does make a good argument.

What is your opinion on this? Let us know by emailing us at info@millarslaw.com

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