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Automated Vehicles to Become Common on US Roads

Inside a Tesla car

Until recently, a self-driving car seemed like a promise of the future, not something that any of us expected to see in our lifetimes. However, swift development of autonomous vehicle technology has made that far-fetched idea a reality. Before the end of 2016, cars that can drive themselves are slated to become even more common on US roads, while safety and traffic regulations race to catch up.

For a number of months, American car manufacturer Tesla has been beta-testing its autopilot features in select models of its vehicles, but the most advanced self-driving features were not yet widely available. CEO and founder Elon Musk announced in October of 2016 that all Tesla models manufactured after that date would include the necessary hardware to become self-driving, but that these features would not be available to use until subsequent software updates were released. In a series of Tweets, Musk recently revealed that those software updates would be released within the next few weeks, bringing to Tesla drivers such features as automatic lane changing, freeway exiting, matching speed to traffic conditions, and self-driving into or out of a garage. The beta-tested vehicles have experienced several auto accidents during the testing period, including one causing fatal injuries to the driver. Musk claims that the failings in the Tesla auto-pilot technologies which resulted in these accidents have all been corrected in the software’s most recent version.

Due to the speed with which these technologies have developed, and the length of time required to introduce new federal regulations, no national laws exist governing the safety requirements of or limits on the use of self-driving technology. So far, the reaction to such self-driving technologies from federal regulators has been cautiously optimistic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rushed to release a handbook of suggested guidelines for automakers on the development of autonomous vehicle technology, offering voluntary rules on how best to test these systems and offer backup controls should self-driving systems fail. Likewise, a handful of states have attempted to or succeeded in passing legislation on self-driving vehicles, with some making the vehicles explicitly legal, and many others failing to enact any legislation. An Alabama legislator attempted to pass a bill which would make self-driving cars permissible on the state’s roads and allow lawmakers to set terms for the use of self-driving cars, but the bill failed.

If you have been injured in an accident on Alabama roads, find out if you may be entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the seasoned and experienced Mobile personal injury lawyers at the Carter Law Firm for a consultation on your case, at 251-433-6500, with additional offices in Birmingham at 205-202-4050.

Birmingham: 205-202-4050 Mobile: 251-433-6500
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