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St. Mary's Law Journal

First Page

817

Date Created

9-2020

Publisher

St. Mary's University School of Law

Editor

William Todd Keller, Jr.

Last Page

843

Abstract

Getting a driver’s license is a highly anticipated rite of passage for most teenagers. Being alone behind the wheel, in control of a 3,000-pound machine, is an honor, a privilege, and a sign of adult responsibility. How will that change when driver’s licenses become licenses “to cause technology to engage” with the increased use of autonomous cars? Will driver’s education courses, with their focus on safety rules and defensive driving techniques, be eliminated if all a vehicle operator needs to do is push a button and the vehicle does the rest? While arguably autonomous cars are safer, they will not be incident-free, so who is liable for the fender bender? If the vehicle operator did nothing more than push a button, current law that focuses on the actions of the tortfeasor might not apply, and the limited law related to autonomous computer systems may apply only in commercial transactions, not autonomous vehicles. Will the carmaker or the software programmer have liability, either for accidents or intentional damage caused by hacking? This paper discusses how the law must change to keep up with rapidly changing technology in autonomous vehicles.

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