National Government Considering Self Driving Car Regulations

The threat posed by car accidents continues to be one of the biggest safety issues faced by Americans each and every year. In fact, in 2013 alone, 32,719 people lost their lives in traffic collisions in the United States and hundreds of thousands more suffered from serious injuries. This loss of life and the overall harm caused by collisions have led to many questioning what can be done to improve safety on the streets of Phoenix and to make sure that as many people as possible remain injury-free.

The primary cause of accidents in the Valley continues to be driver error. This can include a motorist who is traveling too fast for conditions, someone who cuts off another driver, someone who is distracted or even intoxicated behind the wheel, or just someone who makes a bad decision and causes a crash. Regardless of the elements that lead to a collision, it is clear that as long as humans continue to operate cars, accidents will keep happening.

This reality has led some in the tech industry and others in the automobile world to work on self-driving cars as the next wave of transit to hit the nation. Generically called autonomous vehicles or sometimes even referred to simply as the “Google cars,” self-driving vehicles are at the prototype stage for multiple companies who are eager to introduce their products to the customers. But with this new technology has arisen some safety concerns and even legal issues at the state and national level that must be addressed before the public can take advantage of a car that drives itself.

When considering the issue of self-driving cars in 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation took a very cautious tone, noting that the technology should be restricted to testing only and should not be available for use by the general public. It should be seen as a reflection of how fast the industry is evolving that a mere two years later, the Department of Transportation may be reconsidering that line it issued previously and that policy will be updated. This was revealed in a letter written Monday of this week by the department’s spokeswoman.

The job of reevaluating current national policy has been assigned to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which has been instructed to take action to bring greater safety to the nation’s roads. For proponents of autonomous transit, this is very positive news.

Leaders in the field argue that the evolution towards self-driving cars will all but eliminate collisions that occur on roadways, including those that happen every day in the Phoenix area. By eliminating the potential for driver error, autonomous cars will also eliminate all crashes caused by mistakes made behind the wheel. In addition, self-driving vehicles are expected to drastically reduce the economic toll caused by collisions, lead to vehicles that last significantly longer than their current counterparts, decrease the demand for gasoline as congestion will be eased, and reduce the cost of shipping goods as human truck drivers, van operators, and delivery drivers will no longer be necessary.


However, until self-driving cars are legal and used widely in Arizona, car accidents will keep taking place and will unfortunately leave many injured or even killed as a result. If you were hurt in a collision or if someone you love lost his or her life in a crash, know that you may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages. As the facts surrounding any crash are unique, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options if you were the victim of a collision.

The legal team at Abels & Annes, P.C. has been in the business of helping injury victims for years and if you have been hurt, we want to help you as well. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation to those who call us toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER or locally at (602) 819-5191 and we have a lawyer standing by, 24 hours a day, seven days a week so you can get the answers you deserve regardless of when you need them.

Prior Blog Entry: 

Avoiding Thanksgiving Travel Headaches in Phoenix, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published November 24, 2015.


Self-Driving Cars May Be Coming Sooner Than You Thought, by Justin Pritchard, The Huffington Post/AP, published November 24, 2015.

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