Gov. McAuliffe Seeks Boom in Automated Cars In Virginia

The notion of automated cars in Virginia is a new one but it may be in going into the fast lane – at least that’s if Governor Terry McAuliffe gets his way.

The Governor this week pledged to spend his last nine months in office attempting to make Virginia “the capital of automated vehicles.”

The announcement came out of the blue. Virginia has a long way to go to catch up with California in the development of driverless cars. McAuliffe has touted the comparative lack of regulation.

The Washington Post reported on how Virginia is hoping its lack of rulemaking will give it an advantage. In contrast, California is pushing the most comprehensive rules on self-driving cars in the nation.

Governor presses for automated cars in Virginia

An automated car in California (Grendeckhan)

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said:

“We have no rules that prohibit autonomous vehicles, no law. A lot of states do. That’s intentional that we’re doing that.”

McAuliffe said as well as driverless cars, Virginia should develop drones in the air and on the water, pledging to own the land, water, and the sky.

Although automated cars in Virginia may provide an economic boost, it’s not the only state seeking to take advantage of new technology.

Michigan, with its long-established automobile industry, is seeking a bigger role as well as Pennsylvania.  Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania is at the forefront of research into driverless vehicles.

Other states wanting in on the technology include Massachusetts, Texas, and Arizona.

Potential Downsides of Automated Cars in Virginia

As a Virginia personal injury lawyer, I have considerable reservations about automated cars. It’s not reassuring that Virginia is touting its lack of regulation.

Automated cars in Virginia raise a lot of questions such as who is liable if things go wrong and the technology fails causing deaths or injuries. It’s sensible for California to be developing regulations and safeguards to govern the world of automated cars.

I have written in the past about how we might sue big companies like Google in future for malfunctions in cars instead of the other driver’s insurance company. I remain skeptical that Americans will allow the loss of control associated with driverless cars.

Although we would welcome the economic boost of automated cars in Virginia, this needs to be tempered with safeguards for drivers and passengers.

This is a fast-moving but highly complicated area. If you have sustained an injury in a car crash in Virginia, please call our auto accident team at (757) 455-0077.

John Cooper

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