The 2019 A8 will have a Traffic Jam Pilot. A computer automatically takes over the car if sustained speed drops below 37mph on a highway. But this advanced driverless car will not be available in the United States.
The A8 is the first of the Level Three vehicles which can actually drive themselves. While most observers predict that such automobiles will be great for roadway safety and manufacturer profits, they will also render the existing system of transportation, fault, and insurance essentially obsolete. There is also a network of different laws in different states, and these differences caused Audi to pull the plug on the A8 in California.
Level Three autonomous vehicles do not require the driver to watch the road and be ready to take over the wheel at any time.
Car Crashes and “Autopilot” Features
True autopilot cars are limited to the aforementioned Audi and high-end Teslas. However, driver-assisted vehicles are becoming more and more common. In fact, a large number of cars have features like automatic braking and proximity alerts.
If drivers cause car crashes while their vehicles’ driver assistance features are engaged, these individuals are still tortfeasors (negligent drivers) under the law. Autopilot features are no different from antilock brakes or advanced windshield wipers. They are simply safety tools that help drivers be better motorists. They are not an excuse to drive carelessly.
What Causes Car Crashes?
Human error causes over 95 percent of the car crashes in California. Defective products, like bad tires, cause a handful of crashes. But the vast majority are related to things like the following:
● Speed: Excessive velocity increases the risk of a collision, because speeding drivers have less reaction time. Speed also multiples the force in a collision. In California, the posted speed limit is presumed to be a reasonable speed under ideal conditions. So, a driver could be travelling 55 in a 55mph zone during a heavy rain and still be speeding for negligence purposes.
● Impairment: Alcohol slows reaction time and also affects judgement ability. This drug is incredibly powerful. Most drivers become dangerously impaired after just one drink.
● Distraction: Hand-held cell phones are one of the leading causes of distraction. California recently beefed up its cell phone law to prohibit more than just texting and talking while driving. Hands-free cell phones may be even more hazardous. They are almost as distracting and give drivers a false sense of security.
Fatigue also causes a large number of car crashes nationwide. Driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .08 BAC, which is above the legal limit for alcohol.
First Party Liability in a California Car Crash
In all the above-mentioned causes except fatigue, the negligence per se shortcut is often available. This doctrine makes it easier for victim/plaintiffs to establish liability. So, the case may settle sooner and more compensation may be available. The rule applies if:
● The tortfeasor violated a safety law, like the cell phone law, and
● That infraction substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s damages.
In some cases, negligence per se may only be a presumption of negligence as opposed to absolute proof of negligence.
Damages in a California car crash case usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available in some extreme cases, like a tortfeasor who had a BAC three or four times the legal limit.
Count On A Hard-Working Car Accident Lawyer
Driverless cars will change the economic and legal driving landscape. For a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer, contact RMD Law. An attorney can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.