“Autonomous Vehicles: Liability for Accidents and Policy Making” – Carlos Velasco
Name: Carlos Velasco
Department: Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, UIC
Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE
Motorized vehicles have been a preferred mode of transportation since the introduction of highways in the 1950s in the United States. Along with the increase in accessibility of single use motor vehicles to the average American consumer, simultaneous started the rise of annual vehicle accidents. The introduction of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a subdivision to the U.S. Department of Transportation, decreased car incidents through safety and regulation. With the relative stagnation of vehicle-related death rates, roughly around 40,000 per year since the 1970s, the NHTSA is now looking into autonomous vehicles (AVs) technology, colloquially known as self-driving cars, as a possible solution to reduce the number of vehicle accidents. The NHTSA has been an active advocate for the private sector to successfully introduce AVs with the capability of responding to both road conditions from weather and other drivers to the public. The NHTSA is able to do this by setting policy guidelines and standards at the federal level, which state governments are able to use to implement legislation. The push for AVs has also prompted state governments and the public to ask where liability stands with the removal of the driver. This study will be looking at the legality surrounding the question of who would be responsible in cases of collision and death. Examining existing practices and guidelines have shown a trend of not assigning responsibility to a single entity, as it would discourage the private sector from continuing its endeavors. Car manufacturing companies appear to be the most responsible as their software and decision-making algorithm would ultimately have the final say in what action need to be taken. A response of legal action is required.