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Self-driving cars increase pedestrian risks in California

Transportation is essential to California's robust and diverse economy. Agricultural and industrial products leave the state by land, sea and air on a daily basis, and the freeways and streets contain every type of vehicle imaginable.

This has led to some of the greatest innovations in travel and transportation being incubated in Silicon Valley and elsewhere across the Golden State. Alternative fuels have been developed alongside more efficient batteries. The next great challenge is a vehicle that can drive itself.

The most important concern during this development is public safety. Many are not comfortable with the simple principle of cars driven by robots or computer programs. Recent news, such as the first confirmed highway death involving automated driving systems, has further clouded the issue.

San Francisco and other municipalities in California are experiencing the most common problem with self-driving cars: minor, low-speed fender-benders. More self-driving prototypes and the first consumer models on the crowded roads may lead to more.

However, even minor collisions with a motor vehicle can be disastrous to a pedestrian. More "robot cars" on city streets may lead to more pedestrians getting knocked down, which could cause significant injuries, permanent disabilities or even deaths.

The pedestrian victim of a collision with a motor vehicle with a human driver has clear-cut rights to seek damages or compensation against an at-fault driver. In years to come, the creator of software or hardware that runs an automated driving system may be at fault.

An attorney can help define rights and responsibilities for a pedestrian victim and establish the best way to seek restitution.

Source: The Seattle Times, "Self-driving car accidents: Robot drivers are ‘odd, and that’s why they get hit,’" Ryan Beene, Oct. 15, 2017

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