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Significant barriers confront driverless cars

The mountain roads of West Virginia challenge drivers every day, but the future might replace human drivers with fully automated cars navigated by computers. Large corporations like General Motors, Intel, Google and Apple have been investing billions in driverless cars and touting their safety potential. Despite their optimistic predictions, however, multiple barriers could slow the replacement of human drivers.

Mainstream adoption of automated vehicles will require state legislatures to update laws and regulations. Although promoters of computer-driven vehicles imagine a vast reduction in accidents, they will still happen and assigning liability could be difficult and complex. Government agencies will also need to grant private companies widespread permission to survey roads to gather data for the self-driving software. This effort will likely disrupt people's daily activities. People might also delay the switch to automated vehicles, especially the 3.5 million people employed as truck drivers in the United States. The threat of widespread job losses could impede the adoption of the technology.

Despite these issues, the driving record of humans might never compare favorably to what can be achieved by computers. Close to 100 people die in car crashes every day, and the vast majority of these fatal accidents are caused by human error. An autonomous vehicle will never choose to drink or text while driving.

Distracted or negligent drivers who cause accidents that injure others often face responsibility for the payment of victims' damages. A person injured in an automobile accident might gain substantial support from an attorney when pursuing compensation. An attorney could handle negotiations with the at-fault motorist's insurance company. If the settlement offer is inadequate, the attorney might then find it advisable to file a personal injury lawsuit.

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