NachtLaw, P.C. - Nacht & Roumel, P.C.
Protect Your Rights.
Call Today 888-312-7173

Thoughts on the impact of self-driving cars:

We are hearing more and more about self-driving cars; Tesla's latest model has some self-driving features. Google is testing a car and Tim Cook president of Apple refuses to say whether Apple is testing a vehicle. Our relationship with the automobile was described in that last century as a "love affair." For many Americans, the car allows them to feel like an explorer or a cowboy or even a fighter pilot or an astronaut as they make their way to and from work. Many Americans spend so much time in their cars that they feel as if they live in them. Sadly, many homeless people actually do live in their cars. What will the impact of self-driving cars be on our society? 

I am not normally a futurist but I do know something about the law, and I have some predictions about Americans' relationship with law enforcement, and the civil tort system will change as a result of self -driving cars.

First, we can predict that as soon as the technology becomes readily affordable, Americans will gravitate to it. Americans already want to multitask while driving. Indeed we all know that texting while driving, eating while driving, and sleeping while driving cause an enormous amount of accidents. The idea that we can engage in those behaviors safely while driving will be very appealing to many.

We also can count on insurance companies to charge dramatically higher rates for people who continue to drive manually. This change in rate structure will drive (pun intended) many other Americans who prefer the pleasure of being the master behind the wheel into self-driving vehicles. Driving manually will become an expensive hobby.

The police are going to pull far fewer vehicles over for driving unlawfully. This will make life easier for criminals who will be able to transport their drugs or other contraband with a much reduced fear of a traffic stop. On the other hand, it is not all good news for the criminals. Data about their travel routes will be routinely kept by the insurance companies. And I imagine that law enforcement will get access to that data on a routine basis. The police will learn where to keep surveillance, and it will be easier to obtain search warrants on particular vehicles and the identity of the drivers.

So the result in terms of our privacy is a mixed bag. The insurance companies will have more data on us and our travel habits. I suspect they will sell that data to companies to market to us based upon how we travel. Those records will be subpoenaed in divorce proceedings. All of this is a great loss of privacy. But, the dramatic reduction in the routine traffic stop will be a great increase in privacy. That is how most Americans interact with the police, and is also the source of many negative encounters between police and African American citizens.

There is an entire industry dedicated to bad and drunk driving. Many police officers spend much of their time on patrol especially at night pulling over drivers. Many prosecutors are kept busy and many local governments are well funded by the fines and fees resulting from driving convictions. Numerous lawyers, probation officers, and alcohol testing companies depend upon the flow of driving arrests as a source of income. Of course, the bulk of accident lawyers and the lawyers defending the insurance companies also depend upon the income from drunk drivers. Most of the money in the tort system however, goes to healthcare. People are injured and killed in enormous numbers as a result of drivers. I am sure we will still have some injuries and fatalities as a result of computer glitches. But I suspect that accidents that cause bodily harm or death will drop by 90%. This will be wonderful news for people who would've otherwise been hurt or killed and their loved ones. But the economic changes will be enormous. Trauma centers and emergency rooms will see a sharp drop in demand for their services. So will rehabilitation workers, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists. The economic impact will be dramatic and affect people's livelihoods and career choices. In short, I predict this technological change to have a greater social impact than most people realize.

For information or questions regarding this post readers can contact the author David Nacht.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Don’t Hesitate. Let Our Firm Help You Protect Your Rights.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

We have developed a particular way we handle consultations at NachtLaw. Based on years of experience advising thousands of clients about their rights, we have settled on a method that allows our attorneys to provide the best advice possible in a setting that ensures confidentiality and promotes an atmosphere of trust.

Ann Arbor, MI
101 North Main Street Suite 555
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Ann Arbor Law Office Map

Traverse City, MI
415 Cass Street Suite 2C
Traverse City, MI 49684

Traverse City Law Office Map

Toledo, OH
One Seagate Suite 685
Toledo, OH 43604

Toledo Law Office Map

Birmingham, MI
401 South Old Woodward Avenue Suite 460
Birmingham, MI 48009

Birmingham Law Office Map