Several automobile manufacturers are debuting self-driving cars at this years Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Among them are luxury car giants like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. While high-tech cars are crossing over into the territory of consumer electronics, they are also raising some interesting legal questions about what is and isn’t legal for the human occupants and liability issues.
1. Driving Under the Influence
Will it be against the law to poor yourself a martini after a hard days work while your car navigates its way home? Will someone be committing a felony if they have a few too many at the bar before getting a ride home?
2. Drivers License
Many parents get sick of being their teenagers chauffeur and would jump at the chance to have a robo-driver taking their angsty adolescent to and from the mall. Would a unlicensed minor be able ride in a self-driving car? What about someone who has a suspended or revoked license?
3. Traffic Violations
Unless self-driving cars can perform flawlessly all the time, there are bound to be times when a police officer wants to pull one over and write a ticket. But who does the ticket go to?
4. Cell phone use.
The early 2000’s saw many states passing laws prohibiting talking and texting while driving, would these laws be repealed or exceptions made for cars while they are on autopilot?
5. Dozing Off
Driving while extremely fatigued is a crime almost everyone has committed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates over 100,000 accidents every year due to drowsy driving. But with technology behind the wheel, should passengers pack a pillow and blanket to allow for some shut eye during their daily commute?
6. Running out of Fuel
Will self-driving cars be intelligent enough to pilot themselves to a refueling center when the gauge approaches empty? Running out of fuel on the highway can get you a nasty fine in some places.
7. Inclement Weather
Black ice can send the most experienced driver sliding into a ditch on a cold morning. This totals thousands of cars every year and keeps insurance premiums high. How will computer controlled cars handle ice, fog, torrential rain and snow? How will insurance companies deal with claims that are due to artificial intelligence driving too fast for conditions?