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New Jersey Lawmakers Consider Insurance Legislation on Self-Driving Cars

Cockpit of selfdriving car

A new bill coming before New Jersey lawmakers would make the state the third in the nation to require owners of self-driving cars to make sure their vehicles are fully insured. Self-driving cars are due to become even more commonplace, with some experts calling the spread of driverless cars an inevitability. With many questions remaining about the safety of these vehicles, requiring them to be insured could provide necessary increased protection to New Jersey drivers involved in a car accident with a self-driving car.

One of the most substantial questions regarding how the law treats driverless cars and their owners is who becomes responsible for accidents in which these cars are involved. So far, most experts have suggested that the manufacturer of these cars would be liable, since drivers are not in control of the vehicles when accidents occur. However, states that allow driverless cars have begun to act to impose greater financial responsibility for the cars on their owners. Currently, only nine states have created laws that allow autonomous vehicles on their roads, and two other states’ governors have issued executive orders regarding driverless cars. Only two states—Nevada and Florida—have created laws allowing for the general use of driverless cars, and they are the only two states that require owners of these cars to carry liability insurance. New Jersey does not currently have a law on the use of driverless vehicles in the state, but most experts believe that a great deal of legislation at both state and federal levels will emerge in the next year. Having a law concerning who is responsible before such accidents can occur may be the best way to ensure that New Jersey drivers are protected in the event of a crash.

Self-driving cars have been at the center of a great deal of controversy in recent months. In October of 2016, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, announced that its new model vehicles would soon be able to perform many functions autonomously. These functions included exiting and entering freeways, changing lanes, being summoned to or from the garage, or adjusting speed based on traffic conditions. However, safety groups such as Consumer Reports have expressed serious concerns about the state of this technology. Google has been testing autonomous vehicles in California for years, with recent expansions into Arizona, and ride-hailing company Uber has also started its own self-driving vehicle pilot program. These autonomous vehicles have been involved in several minor crashes, but one Tesla driver was fatally injured in 2016 when his vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer turning left in front of it.

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident in New Jersey, contact the compassionate and seasoned personal injury attorney Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation on your case, at 973-532-9681.

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