Explaining the Confusing Components of a Self-driving Car Accident


A self-driving car is a vehicle capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. There are many different types of self-driving vehicles, including self-driving cars that are capable of Level 2 or Level 3 autonomy. A self-driving vehicle can park, accelerate and brake without the steering wheel or pedals, brake in emergencies, and easily change lanes. Vehicles capable of Level 3 autonomy can drive without human-involuntary control on the highway and have been tested to have a daily commute of 190 miles plus more.

Anytime a driverless vehicle senses an impending accident, there are two possible outcomes. The car can avoid the obstacle or collide with it. People have assumed that vehicles will always prevent an accident and collisions. Still, a self-driving car is programmed to make the possible decision based on its programming, the surrounding environment, and the current situation of the vehicle.

What is a “Black Box”

A black box is a device that records and transmits data from an aircraft or vehicle. They are commonly referred to as “black boxes” because the machines are usually painted black and can withstand harsh conditions, such as heat and impact. These devices record data from sensors in the vehicle that then transmit the data to a computer. Data from a black box can be used to prove the cause of an accident. In court cases, a black box can be used to support the plaintiff’s evidence and to prove negligence if the device shows that the defendant violated traffic laws or engaged in reckless driving. The plaintiff can use all this data from the black box to make the claim process easier when an accident occurs. This makes it easier to prove responsibility in court.

Utilitarian vs. Rights Approach to Accidents

The practical approach to accidents allows the 1st vehicle to be “technically” at fault because they were programmed to avoid the obstacle in its path, but this approach contradicts human morality. This approach believes that the lives at stake are more valuable than the lives lost or injuries suffered in the accident due to a practical goal; to spare as many lives in the situation. However, if a self-driving vehicle has the choice to hit a flammable object or a person standing beside the obstacle, it should always choose to hit the flammable thing. The rights approach to accidents rejects this idea because both parties involved are equal in the situation. This approach believes that vehicles should never put human lives at risk because people have the right to live safely.

Who is Responsible When a Self-Driving Car Crashes

The main challenge to determining liability in self-driving vehicle accidents requires the injured party to prove that the vehicle caused its injury. The manufacturer can be liable for the damages if the car cannot perform as designed. The manufacturer can also be responsible for the injury if it fails to provide adequate training, safety precautions, and maintenance. Some have argued that the law requires these practices of negligence, but this violation of the law is less than a clear act of omission.

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