D.C. Might See Driverless Cars Sooner than Later

By Peter DePaolis

Recently, the Washington Post reported that Washington D.C.’s Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has announced to carmakers that the city is ready to accept self-driving technology. Companies currently developing and testing self-driving vehicles will be accepted in a proactive environment, and the District is now working with transportation, disability advocates, public safety, and environmental groups to bring the technology to the nation’s capital.

Potential Pilot Program for Greenbelt Residents and Surrounding Cities

The city with the Southwest Business Improvement District is exploring the benefits of adding self-driving technology to the city. More so, they are soliciting proposals from innovators and considering a pilot program to launch near the L’Enfant Plaza.

The proposal is to keep the area rich in cutting-edge technology, which includes self-driving vehicles for residents and visitors to the area. Bowser states that the city is an innovator, and they are always seeking new ways to make their tech-savvy city stand out. Therefore, self-driving vehicles just make sense.

Not the First Robot Project

This is not the first robot project for the city. In fact, the embrace of technology led to the District Department of Transportation allowing Starship Technologies to make food deliveries to residents in Logan Circle and along 14th Street using robots. The robots would roll through the city using map data and take takeout food from local restaurants to the doors of their customers.

Are Driverless Cars the Right Way to Go?

A pilot program in Washington, D.C. is receiving substantial support, and the proposed areas include 10th Street SW. The Southwest Business Improvement District would provide driverless vehicles that work as shuttles to connect visitors to the businesses, wharf, museums, art galleries, and malls of the area. They feel that the 10th Street SW region is the perfect spot to test driverless vehicles because traffic is predictable and manageable in that area, and the daily volume of traffic only averages 4,300 cars.

How Safe Are Self-Driving Vehicles?

Currently, there is an argument as to whether self-driving cars are safer than driver-driven vehicles. Right now, the industry that is manufacturing these driverless vehicles states that they are safer, which will eventually save more lives if they can drive on the open road. However, no solid study shows driverless vehicles would save more lives or that they are safer.

Manufacturers are using lobbying to get lawmakers on board and to get more support for the use of their driverless vehicles in major cities. The safety requirements for these vehicles have not yet been established. This means that these vehicles do not have to meet any electrical safety performance requirements, cyber attack protections, or even show how they will protect data collected by the car’s computer about the passenger, vehicle, or owner.

Study Shows Some Americans Excited about Driverless Vehicles

According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), three out of four consumers are excited about driverless vehicle technology. In the report, Self-Driving Vehicles: Consumer Sentiments, 93 percent of drivers surveyed were excited for the new technology – not fearful of it. In that same study, 62 percent of motorists were interested in replacing their current vehicle with a driverless car.

What Is the Primary Cause of Motor Vehicle Deaths in the United States?

The number of motor vehicle crash fatalities in the United States is astounding. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimate that 32,000 people are killed and more than two million injured in motor vehicle accidents each year.

Some of the primary causes of these deaths include:

  • Passengers and drivers are not wearing seatbelts
  • Children not adequately buckled into their seat or using the proper car seat
  • Drivers are driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Drivers are driving while distracted
  • Speeding and reckless driving behaviors

Some of these causes can be reduced with the use of driverless vehicles. For example, there would be less risk of driving while under the influence, because motorists could have their driverless car take them home. Also, driverless cars are programmed to obey the speed limit; therefore, there would be no more drivers speeding down the highway.

Driverless Is Not Driverless

While driverless technology means the driver is not controlling the vehicle, they may need to override the system. Therefore, this technology is not 100 percent hands-off. In some cases, the driver must stay attentive to the road, just as much as if they were driving the vehicle. So, a driver who is intoxicated would still be breaking the law, even if their driverless car was taking them home from a bar.

Driverless Technology Is Not Here Yet – Hold Drivers Accountable

Driverless technology is not released yet, but it may come to the consumer market soon. Until then, drivers are still responsible for preventing accidents on the roadway. When you are injured because a driver failed to obey the rules of the road, or they were driving recklessly, you may be entitled to compensation.

To explore your options for compensation, you need to speak with an injury attorney. An injury attorney serves as your advocate and works to secure compensation that covers your medical costs, lost wages, disability, property damage, and pain and suffering.

For your automobile accident, contact an attorney from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP today.

You can reach us at one of our three convenient locations or by requesting your free consultation online.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.