Autonomous Vehicle Law in Oklahoma Allows for Risks

Autonomous Vehicle Law in Oklahoma Allows for RisksAs innovation drives the nation forward in terms of new, exciting inventions, we discover gaps in safety and regulation as we come across them. This is just the typical process of creation; however, car manufacturers seem to have a habit of testing newer technology on their customers — whether they admit it or not. While they do all have some sort of process and standards when creating new features, they don’t always tell the full truth about the features and product they offer.

In other words, driver assistance and autopilot technology is incredibly useful and helpful in theory, but simply hasn’t been around long enough to be truly safe. Despite this, Oklahoma allows these vehicles on the roads. These vehicles should always have a conscientious human in the drivers’ seat, ready to take over and correct whenever needed, but recklessness often comes from an inflated sense of safety and confidence: two things automated vehicles instill in their drivers. Since this technology is so new, the law surrounding its misuse is still being written, but that doesn’t mean victims of reckless or negligent drivers shouldn’t pursue damages. You do not have to suffer just because your situation is new.

The dangers of new, evolving driving technology

A new study shines a light on the true impact of driver-assistance features when they’re handled recklessly or rushed onto the market. In the past 10 months, the US has seen nearly 400 accidents involving new, advanced technology. While only a few victims of these accidents lost their lives or suffered serious, critical injuries, remember that this data encompasses less than a year of research. We simply do not know how many critical accidents due to automated driving technology have taken place beyond that, which is exactly what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aims to fix with these new reports and potential regulations.

Anything new will take a while to be put into place, though. In the meantime, Oklahoma has recently signed a new law authorizing autonomous vehicles and their assistive technology:

A person, as defined in Section 1701 of Title 47 of the Oklahoma Statutes, may operate a fully autonomous vehicle on the public roads of this state without a human driver provided that the automated driving system is engaged and the vehicle meets the following conditions:

  1. If a failure of the automated driving system occurs that renders that system unable to perform the entire dynamic driving task relevant to its intended operational design domain, the fully autonomous vehicle will achieve a minimal risk condition;
  2. The fully autonomous vehicle is capable of operating in compliance with the applicable traffic and motor vehicle safety laws and regulations of this state, unless an exemption has been granted by the Department of Public Safety or its designee; and
  3. When required by federal law, the vehicle bears the required manufacturer’s certification label indicating that at the time of its manufacture it has been certified to be in compliance with all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards including reference to any exemption granted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  4. Creating this law is meant to make a framework for future regulations and laws to make it safer, but that, too, does not happen overnight. As it stands, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike may be at risk of serious injuries if an autonomous vehicle fails to stop in time and the human operating it isn’t paying attention.

Who is liable in an Oklahoma City accident involving an autonomous car?

Oklahoma follows a modified comparative negligence model when it comes to determining fault and liability in car accidents. Essentially, this means both sides must prove not only the other side’s fault, but also their own innocence, if there is any question of shared fault. Otherwise, the victim must definitively prove that the other driver’s negligent or reckless actions caused their injuries.

But what if the driver is the vehicle, and not a human? It depends. People in the “driver’s seat” of a self-driving car in Oklahoma must be ready and attentive enough to take over at all times for them to be legal. If the driver was intoxicated in any way, your attorney could use that as proof of negligence and DUI. Proving inattentiveness can be more difficult, especially with no other mitigating factors (like alcohol) involved, as Oklahoma does not have clear definitions of what counts as inattentive and reckless driving. But just because a case is difficult, does not mean it is not worth pursuing.

If there is no driver, then liability may fall with whomever owns the vehicle OR, in the event of a system failure, with the manufacturer.

Choosing an attorney is incredibly important, but making sure that attorney is experienced and skilled at handling car accident cases specifically matters even more so. Someone with a strong background in these types of cases knows how to examine every detail of the case from every angle possible until an opportunity presents itself. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be out of work for months at a time and may need months or years of medical treatment. You may even have a new disability or complication for the rest of your life, and may need accommodations for years to come. Don’t let a stranger’s negligence take so much from you after already damaging your physical health. Just because the law is new, doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done and they get to get away with paying nothing.

With two offices in Oklahoma City, the tenacious car accident attorneys at Cunningham & Mears strive to represent victims of negligent driving (or negligent autonomous driving) wherever they need us. We know there is nothing more important than your recovery, and we know you do not deserve to pay for someone else’s carelessness. Let us work on your behalf so you can get the justice and compensation you need to get better. Call us today at (405) 232-1212 or use our contact form  to learn how we can help.