Self-Driving Car Protects Us From Our Distraction

Google’s Self-Driving Car (“SDC”)

California is considering mandating that a driver sit in the SDC as a back-up “driver.”   Specifically, CA is interested in amending the CA Senate Bill 1298 to include additional regulations.

Learn more about the evolution of the SDC:

It looks like CA is — and it is very rare for me to say this — trying to over-regulate something it does not understand.

When I teach Intro to Law, I ask students: is law reactive or preventative? Which is better? They all say preventative. But then when we start talking about technology, they realize the law just can’t keep up.  And that that is a bad thing.

Until, I have to argue, the SDC.   I appreciate California’s good intentions, but in this situation, it may hinder the SDC’s needed freedom to properly evolve and build customer trust.

When the ATM was introduced, was there a human inside the machine dispensing the cash?

When the dishwasher hit the marketplace, was there a law promulgated that mandated a human supervise the machine during its entire cycle?

When you try to “trick” the washing machine to be able to open it to throw in more clothes, does the machine cooperate, or are does it ignore you and leave you frazzled as it proceeds to wash your clothes?

If society allows the button-pushing, impatient, already very distracted people in a SDC to interfere with Google’s heavily-researched and coded network, it may lead to more accidents.

SDC Facts:

Google SDC has driven over 1,000,000 miles, including mountain roads, highways, city streets, and Lombard Drive in San Francisco.  No accident has been caused by a SDC while in autonomous mode.  See Google’s SDC Project Monthly Report.  In fact, the main cause of SDC “accidents” are distracted drivers rear-ending them.

Collisions caused by humans

In 2014, there were 9,967 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher; this was 31 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year. See National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Society is already tolerating teens to senior citizens, to sit behind the wheel in whatever mental and physical condition, driving a machine weighing 1-2 tons upwards to 85mph+ without pause.

So why the fear with the SDC?

Because it is new.  Unfamiliar.

Yet, the law is trying to regulate something it does not fully understand.  Furthermore, the local government may profit from this new area of regulation.  Charging for an autonomous vehicle operator certificate at DMV’s in CA, for example.  What about a training course fee?  Exam fee?  Renewal fee? Etc.

We already are all passing through life with our heads bent down looking at screens.  Distracted driving is already a big cause of injury and fatality collisions.  Society might as well protect us in our distracted state and provide for SDC to operate, as programmed.

Copyright 2016 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.