Car Accident Lawyer and Crashworthiness Safety Expert Todd Tracy and Steve Syson, the father of the airbag, warn that car manufacturers are maneuvering to get autonomous vehicles exempted from product liability lawsuits.
Todd Tracy, Car Accident Lawyer: Should any driver every turn over all of their driver responsibilities to a computer?
Steve Syson: I don’t think so. I think this is a very bad idea. Think about it, do you turn over all of your financial responsibilities over to your bank or do you watch your own checking account? I don’t think that you want to have a situation where a digital computer does what a human computer is supposed to do. You have to have oversight and I think the human computer has to be able to see what is going on. And if you have a car that is capable of doing too much for you, you’re going to wind up with the same situation that you have with any other system where you let something else have control. There’s going to be risks that can be assessed quickly by the human mind, that can’t possibly be assessed by a computer, because the programmer cannot make software to think the way that a human thinks. Human beings think in the abstract and computers do not.
Todd: I remember Volvo having a big media blitz to come out and look at their new automatic braking system. And they had an 18-wheeler, they had a driver coming there, and there was no one driving there and the car was supposed to stop on its own. What happened to that during that test?
Steve: There was a crash and they even had a simulated pedestrian. The vehicle was supposed to slam the brakes on and it hit the pedestrian. So these autonomous systems are at least in their infancy and I don’t know that they’re ever going to grow up. I’m afraid that the decision-making process is too complicated for a computer.
Todd: Are they going too fast?
Steve: Well if you look at the failures that we had with airbags—an airbag system compared to an autonomous driving system—just think of how simple it is. It only has one job to do and that is if you’re going to bash your face in on the dashboard or the steering wheel, the airbag has to deploy. They can’t get that right. So how on Earth are they going to be able to get a system that is as complicated as steering, braking, accelerating, path-following, other vehicle avoidance—how on earth are they going to do that if they can’t even get airbags to deploy properly in crashes yet, after almost 40 years of practice?
Todd: We’ve just gone through an election here in our country. Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States and the vehicle lobby has already approached his transition team about pre-empting the manufacturers for autonomous driving vehicles. Take us through this concept of pre-empting liability and if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for society.
Steve: Well I think we live in a society that is supposed to be a society of laws. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, you should look at the U.S. Constitution as a guide for personal and corporate responsibility. And what does the U.S. Constitution say for people who were injured by defective products, or anything else?
Todd: You have the right to a trial by jury.
Steve: You have the right to a trial by jury. That’s right in the Constitution. So what these folks are trying to do is they’re trying to go outside and go around the United States Constitution in order to get a free pass on defective products.
Todd: Well, what concerns me is that if these autonomous driving vehicles are so safe, why would they have to have the pre-emption?
Steve: Well, they wouldn’t need pre-emption if they weren’t reasonably sure they were going to fail.
If you, a family member, or friend have suffered a traumatic car accident injury or they were killed in an auto accident, there may be grounds for a product liability lawsuit against the car maker. The victim’s or family members of the deceased person may be entitled to significantly more money in damages than just a negligence case about the cause of the accident.
The Tracy Law Firm focuses on “Who Caused The Traumatic Car Accident Injuries or Death” — not who caused the accident.
Whether you were at fault or not in the cause of the accident, car companies are required by federal motor vehicle safety standards to make vehicles that will protect the driver and passengers from catastrophic injuries or death.
Contact Todd Tracy directly to request a free case evaluation at the Vehicle Safety Firm.
Or call the Tracy Firm for a consultation at 214-324-9000.
The Tracy Law Firm is a nationwide law practice dedicated to making cars safer for the public.