The potential for self-driving, autonomous vehicles to get into accidents and seriously injure or kill people has plagued news headlines since companies like Google, Tesla, and Uber started testing the cars on the road. While these vehicles were supposed to make the roads safer by eliminating drivers’ errors and negligence, some are now wondering if they are perhaps simply too dangerous to go mainstream.


Litigation Filed Against Cities, States, and Self-Driving Car Companies

The family of one woman who was hit and killed by an autonomous vehicle made by Uber has now filed a lawsuit against the city and state where she was killed for negligence, claiming that the state negligently allowed for the vehicle to be tested on the roads and placed the public in danger by not first putting proper oversight and regulations in place. The lawsuit also claims that the roadways were not safe enough to properly allow for any autonomous vehicles to be operated; specifically, the city’s roadway design, they claim, arguably encouraged jaywalking.

In addition, last year, General Motors Co. settled a lawsuit filed by a motorcyclist involved in a crash with another self-driving car, and there have been a number of other driverless vehicle accidents involving crashes, injuries, and fatalities since 2016, including cars in autopilot mode that crashed into tractor-trailers.

Litigation involving these autonomous vehicles can sometimes be more complicated because, while they are autonomous, they also warn drivers that they need to remain diligent and take control of the car in some circumstances. In this case of the pedestrian who was killed in Arizona, the driver, who worked for Uber, was reportedly streaming a television show at the time of the accident and did not trigger the braking system until after the crash. The car’s ability to engage the emergency braking system itself had been disabled, and it reportedly classified the pedestrian who it hit as an object in the road it could not avoid. In other words, the car failed to interpret the signals correctly in a way to avoid the collision.

However, there is no question that, in this case, the governor signed an executive order which allowed and encouraged the testing and operation of the cars. Yet, it is unclear whether the state conducted any kind of investigation into the safety of the technology and vehicles first.


If You or a Loved One Has Suffered in a Car Accident, Contact Our Rhode Island Accident Attorneys

If you have been in a car accident here in Rhode Island, contact our experienced Providence car accident attorneys today to find out how we can help.