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Automatic braking technology holds promise, but may also present liability issues

Automatic driving technologies, and automated driving in general, is an important emerging issue in the world of automobile manufacturing. The promise of increasing highway safety through use of this technology is great, but the regulatory structure surrounding automatic driving technologies is still developing.

While manufacturers are moving slowly on comprehensive automatic driving systems, certain technologies, like automatic braking, are being heavily pushed because of the safety benefits they are expected to bring.  

At present, many of the models which feature the technology are luxury vehicles manufactured overseas, and there has been increasing pressure from several quarters to include the technology. Last year, that pressure resulted in 20 manufacturers voluntarily agreeing with federal regulators to include automatic braking as a standard feature on new models by 2022.

Some manufacturers have already committed to including the automatic braking on new models. Nissan, for instance, is contemplating including automatic braking as a standard feature on roughly one million 2018 models, and Toyota has committed to making automatic emergency braking a standard feature on almost all of its American models by the end of 2017. General Motors currently offers automatic braking as an option feature on around two-thirds of its models.

Automatic driving technologies, despite the promise of increased safety, do present certain legal issues that will need to be sorted out. Specifically, how will liability be determined when the driver gets in an accident? We’ll say more about this in our next post. 

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