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One major hurdle for driverless cars: No one knows who’s liable if there’s an accident

Published Jan 29th, 2013 11:59PM EST
Google Driverless Car

While driverless cars could be huge, there a lot of very important issues to be addressed before we start seeing them rule the roadways. The Wall Street Journal on Monday outlined one of the most important problems with driverless cars that has yet to be worked out: That is, if a driverless car gets in an accident, who is liable for the damage? Even in states where driverless cars are already on the road, the Journal has found that lawmakers have largely punted on figuring out liability issues. California and Florida, for instance, have only passed bills that instruct their Registries of Motor Vehicles to come up with rules for driverless cars over the next year or two.

Making the issue even more complicated is the fact that auto manufacturers have fought hard against any laws that hold them liable for accidents where their driverless cars are at fault. Needless to say, if manufacturers feel they’re at risk for massive lawsuits over any driverless car accidents, it takes away incentive to manufacture and sell them. While driverless cars do indeed show a lot of promise both as a way to prevent accidents and to ease roadway congestion, it will likely be many more years before they actually become a reality for most commuters.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.