Several accidents involving autonomous cars in California have exposed a key flaw of driverless vehicles. Cars like the self-driving Google Lexus SUV and the Cadillac SRX are often involved in minor collisions because they operate too cautiously and always follow the speed limit. The accidents have raised questions about whether or not driverless vehicles should be programmed to follow the law at all times.
One accident involving a driverless car happened in Mountain View on Nov. 2. A Google car was rear-ended while making a very slow right turn on a red light. On Nov. 12, a motorcycle cop stopped another Google car in Mountain View when the car was spotted holding up a line of traffic. The driverless vehicle was going just 24 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone.
Engineers have debated the issue of whether autonomous cars should be programmed to keep up with the flow of traffic. The co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab said that engineers have decided to limit driverless cars to the posted speed limit, even though that can sometimes cause problems. Driverless cars have an accident rate that is twice as high as human-driven cars, and the state of California has proposed rules that may require a human driver to be inside a driverless car at all times.
One of the problems with autonomous cars is that it can be difficult to determine who is liable for auto accidents. An attorney may be able to help a person who was injured in an accident involving a driverless car to file a claim against the car owner, manufacturer, engineer or operator, depending upon the results of the investigation and other evidence.