It’s Time We Started Thinking About – and Legislating – Ghost Cars

It’s Time We Started Thinking About – and Legislating – Ghost CarsWhen the world first started hearing about autonomous vehicles (AV), everyone began assuming that they would make our lives easier, simpler, and much better. If you’re of a certain age, you might have had your own visions of “Johnny Cab” or a Lexus 2054 in your head.

We thought that parents could send their vehicles to pick up their children from school, people who are disabled could get around more freely, and that we could get in the car and relax while it simply drove us home. However, even after several years of having self-driving vehicles around, none of these things are fully possible for the average person.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thinking about the issue right now. “Ghost cars” are driverless cars that offer taxi or rideshare services in certain cities, such as Phoenix and San Francisco. The company operating these ghost cars is called Waymo. When people get in these vehicles, they immediately notice that the driver seat is empty. However, the steering wheel still moves, the gas pedal goes up and down, and a voice is heard through the speakers. The voice is a worker for Waymo that ensures that the ride is going smoothly.

These vehicles are currently available to drive people around 24/7. A recent article mentioned that the company is planning to expand its services to Los Angeles this year. Therefore, these ghost cars are slowly trying to make their way around the United States.

What are the concerns with Waymo driverless AVs?

When it comes to Waymo driverless AVs, there are several concerns among citizens, researchers, and lawmakers. Rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, are already known for causing more traffic across various cities. Therefore, Waymo is expected to make areas where there are significant issues with traffic even more problematic.

Many people think owning an AV could be more affordable than paying for a parking space at work as they could send their car back home after being dropped off for the day. They also think that it could be more convenient if they no longer need to drive their child to school, a playdate, or a sports practice. However, this would not only intensify traffic conditions in multiple cities and states, but it may also increase greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of whether the vehicles are electric.

A professor at the University of Oregon mentioned that the public and private sectors should consider working together to discuss some of the potential problems that can come from these driverless vehicles. He makes the statement that “we don’t want to be in the same position as we were when Uber came to town.”

Since we are still several years away from seeing Waymo AVs being used or owned by many Americans across the country, there is still time for lawmakers to analyze the circumstances and develop solutions to potential problems that may come about.

So, what happens when your self-driving car hits someone and you’re not even there?

If you send your self-driving vehicle home for the day or to pick up the kids from a playdate with friends, there could be a chance that it could crash into another vehicle or even hit a pedestrian while you are not there. Unfortunately, we have no idea what would happen if this type of situation were to occur because regulation and legislation has not caught up with technology. While most people are having positive experiences riding in the Waymo cars, this doesn’t mean that there will not be any risks or accidents associated with these vehicles in the near future. Right now, most cases ­ when they move forward at all – appear to be against the manufacturers of these vehicles. That has certainly been the case with Tesla thus far, and all of its flaws. But there may come a time where owners are held liable for vehicles performing in ways they literally have no control over.

While we do not have Waymo in Maryland yet, we know these types of vehicles are coming. So, the time to create safe, responsible legislation is now, because the technology moves faster than our lawmakers do. We need to start legislating for the future we can expect.

If you have recently been hurt in a car accident with another driver, a “self-driving” Tesla, or even a ghost car outside of Maryland, get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA as soon as possible. We will advocate for your rights, build a solid case against the manufacturer, and strive to recover compensation for your damages. To begin exploring your legal options, call our office or submit our contact form to schedule an appointment. We are available in multiple locations across Maryland, and we look forward to talking with you soon.