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Bicycle Safety and Negligence Questions Largely Remain Unanswered

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It’s a well-known fact that accidents involving distracted or otherwise negligent drivers happen often. Sometimes the drivers hit other vehicles or pedestrians. Other times, it’s an unsuspecting cyclist that ends up injured. There are laws and bicycle safety measures in place to help prevent these types of occurrences but none that address self-driving vehicles. That’s one of the reasons why we find the whole Uber movement disconcerting.

In December 2016, it was revealed in The Guardian that the ride sharing company was using self-driving vehicles in some areas of our state. Further, reporters noted that those vehicles were seen committing traffic infractions. Understandably, this begs the question as to who will be responsible should one of these vehicles injure someone. Will it be the ride-sharing company, the vehicle’s owner, software programmers or the car's manufacturer that’s to blame?

That’s a question yet to be formally addressed by our nation’s courts and lawmakers. And we’re not the only ones who are asking it. As far back as 2015, The Washington Post and CNN started delving into these issues. They didn’t come up with definitive answers to the bicycle safety questions self-driving cars propose and neither did The Guardian staff in a subsequent article that appeared in January 2017. However like some polled, we envision these types of cases will bring up issues of comparative and contributory negligence.

As such, all of the people we mentioned in our initial question could find themselves being named litigants. For instance, the software programmers and manufactures have a duty to ensure that the vehicles are safe for their intended use. The same may be said for ride-sharing companies and the people who purchase such vehicles. Of course cyclists must practice bicycle safety as well. Otherwise, they could find themselves on the wrong end of contributory or comparative negligence claims too. To continue discussing the additional impact self-driving vehicles may have on bicycle safety, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin today.


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