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Self-Driving Vehicles Without Human Backup Allowed on Florida Roads

Aerial view of parking lot and blue car backing out of a space self driving autonomous cars

On July 1, 2019, a new law came into effect in Florida, which allows autonomous vehicles to operate on public roads without a human backup driver in the car. In June of 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law, saying that such a measure will allow the state to contribute to ever-advancing automotive technology.

Types of Autonomous Vehicles Covered Under the Legislation

The new law applies to vehicles with level 4 and 5 autonomous driving abilities. Depending on the area in which the car is being operated, a level 4 vehicle can travel without human input. Typically, a person can take control of the car when moving through surface streets. A level 5 car can operate on its own regardless of road or condition type. Both kinds of vehicles are still in testing phases.

Florida Becomes More Competitive

Allowing testing, and eventually operation, of high and full automation vehicles, will attract more autonomous vehicle companies to the state, making it a competitor with California, Arizona, and Nevada, which already allow such testing. Additionally, more lucrative job opportunities will be available in Florida.

Minimizing Accidents and Traffic

DeSantis said that permitting self-driving vehicles on the roads could cut back on the number of car accidents and decrease traffic. With various gadgets and apps easily accessible to drivers, many are distracted when they get behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1,000 people are injured every day in distracted driving-related accidents.

Under the new law, individuals who have autonomous driving engaged on their vehicles will be exempt from hands-free statutes in the state.

Issues with Driverless Cars

Although the benefits are plenty with the new law taking effect, some see potential issues. Vehicle automation will take some human error out of driving, yet that does not guarantee they will be 100% safe. Collisions can still occur because of malfunctioning equipment. For instance, in 2016, a Tesla running on autopilot mode failed to brake when a cleaning vehicle came into its path, killing its 23-year-old passenger. In that same year, a Google Lexus backed into a bus as a result of a faulty system, which caused only superficial damage to the vehicle.

Under the new law, ride-sharing companies, like Lyft and Uber, that seek to take advantage of driverless technology on Florida roads will be required to have at least $1 million coverage for accidents resulting in death, bodily injury, and property damage.

Reach Out to The Fran Haasch Law Group for a Case Evaluation

As automotive technology continues to advance and more driverless cars appear on our streets, questions about accident liability are likely to arise. Determining negligence in such a collision depends on the facts of the case. Our lawyers will use their resources and skill to establish responsibility and seek fair compensation for damages.

Discuss your case with our attorneys by calling us at (727) 784-8191 or contacting us online.

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