Technology has improved our lives in many ways, but it has also become the root of many problems. As mobile phones, navigation devices, and in-vehicle entertainment systems have become more prevalent among road users, distracted driving has become a major threat to public safety. Now, some enthusiasts are asserting that technology may be the solution to a larger problem. Some designers believe that self-driving cars and autonomous driving features are the solution to human error, which is often caused by distracted driving. This raises a number of interesting liability questions in Kentucky car accident cases, one that courts will undoubtedly be grappling with in the coming years. For example, if you're operating a self-driving vehicle that crashes, is it you or the car manufacturer that is to blame?
If you have been involved in a car accident involving either distracted driving or a self-driving vehicle, it is important to speak with an experienced Louisville car accident attorney. Personal injury claims arising from car accidents are affected by these new and evolving areas of law.
The Potential of Autonomous Driving Technologies
Self-driving cars have become an increasingly familiar sight on roads across the United States. Autonomous features, such as lane assist and drift control, are also improving safety in new vehicle models.
Forbes reports that Cadillac has even released an eye tracking feature that senses when drivers are looking at a mobile phone. The research indicates that autonomous driving features are, indeed, reducing accident rates. According to the Wall Street Journal, one study estimates that self-driving vehicles could eliminate up to 90 percent of all auto accidents in the United States. This figure may sound unrealistic until one considers that the vast majority of accidents are caused by human error. Indeed, Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society reports that approximately 90 percent of auto accidents are the result of driver error. Self-driving vehicles hold vast potential in their ability to effectively eliminate the opportunity for driver error to occur.
Kentucky Law Requires Drivers to Avoid Distractions
Drivers have legal obligations under both the statutes and case law of the state of Kentucky. Section 189.292 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes prohibits the use of personal communication devices while operating motor vehicles on a traveled portion of a roadway. The statute specifically prohibits text messaging, instant messaging, and email, but it can encompass other digital communications as well. Many apps use the text-based communication that is prohibited by the statute. Thus, using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other popular apps can also be a violation of the law.
Drivers in Kentucky, as in other states, also have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles with due care. A driver who causes an accident because he or she was using a cell phone will likely be found to have violated this duty, regardless of what apps or communication methods were being used on the phone. Such negligence can lead to claims against the driver’s auto insurance carrier, lawsuits, disciplinary action against the defendant’s driver’s license, fines, and other penalties.
While self-driving cars may someday reduce the problem of distracted driving in Kentucky, for now it is almost exclusively up to drivers to accept personal responsibility for eliminating distractions. Parents should also help their teen drivers eliminate distractions in the vehicle. This may include handheld devices, car radios, or even the mere presence of other teens in the vehicle - all of which contribute to teen accident rates. When accidents do occur, a Louisville car accident attorney can help injury victims identify all responsible parties and legal causes of their crash.