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Can guidelines prevent car accidents with self-driving vehicles?

There are probably many people throughout the country, but especially in California, who see self-driving vehicles as the "wave of the future." In fact, there are parts of California where so-called autonomous cars are already on the roads, and they are being rolled out in many other parts of the country as well. But, of course, along with this rush of new technology comes the possibility of new dangers for drivers, passengers and pedestrians on the roadways in California.

As a result, the federal government has just released some new guidelines to regulate this type of transportation - the first regulations of their kind. According to a recent article, the guidelines are intended to establish regulation over the software that contributes to the operation of self-driving vehicles. But, can these guidelines prevent car accidents that involve autonomous vehicles?

In announcing the new federal regulations, the federal government has acknowledged that a variety of states, including California and Michigan, are already developing some legal frameworks in an attempt to allow the companies that are pursing this technology to safely test it on the roads. It appears that the federal government will allow the states to continue to experiment. However, the federal initiatives will be, in part, aimed at attempting to establish some "best practices" for all states.

As the technology of self-driving cars continues to advance, the issue of what to do when these vehicles are inevitably involved in car accidents will be posed. This is new and exciting technology, but it could present novel questions of law for those who are injured in car accidents.

Source: The Detroit News, "Feds announce unprecedented autonomous car guidelines," Melissa Nann Burke and Michael Wayland, Sep. 20, 2016

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