Browse Publications Technical Papers EPR2020005

Unsettled Legal Issues Facing Automated Vehicles EPR2020005

This SAE EDGE Research Report explores the many legal issues raised by the advent of automated vehicles. While promised to bring major changes to our lives, there are significant legal challenges that have to be overcome before they can see widespread use. A century’s worth of law and regulation were written with only human drivers in mind, meaning they have to be amended before machines can take the wheel. Everything from key federal safety regulations down to local parking laws will have to shift in the face of AVs. This report undertakes an examination of the AV laws of Nevada, California, Michigan, and Arizona, along with two failed federal AV bills, to better understand how lawmakers have approached the technology. States have traditionally regulated a great deal of what happens on the road, but does that still make sense in a world with AVs? Would the nascent AV industry be able to survive in a world with fifty potential sets of rules? Given the current lack of a federal AV law, state-level legislation can have a great deal of influence over the industry. Beyond government regulation, what other areas of our legal system will have to adapt to AVs? How do we assign liability for an accident in which the only actors were machines? How do you give an AV a ticket? The questions are numerous and have already captured the imagination of lawyers and lawmakers. This report will explore a number of potential changes facing the legal system, the unsettled aspects that derive from this new world, and the proposed solutions that have been raised.
NOTE: SAE EDGE™ Research Reports are intended to identify and illuminate key issues in emerging, but still unsettled, technologies of interest to the mobility industry. The goal of SAE EDGE™ Research Reports is to stimulate discussion and work in the hope of promoting and speeding resolution of identified issues. SAE EDGE™ Research Reports are not intended to resolve the challenges they identify or close any topic to further scrutiny.


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