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Road safety still an issue on autonomous highways

Automakers believe their new self-driving vehicles may soon contribute to a greatly reduced incidence of roadway deaths. According to experts, however, liability and personal injury insurance coverage will still play a major role for drivers in Louisiana and around the country. Although insurance and other transportation industries are predicted to experience significant disruption, researchers say such changes could go in many directions.

Factors like maintenance, programming and hacking might pose new threats that end up making up for lower driver error. Some observers maintain that existing inspection standards will fail to catch some types of programming deficiencies that eventually lead to accident injuries. Malicious hackers may even intentionally cause vehicle collisions to obtain insurance payouts. Another important issue is the fact that automated vehicle technology is sufficiently new that accidents could occur for unpredictable reasons.

As more car makers transition to self-driving vehicles, insurers are likely to institute new forms of policies and coverage to compensate. Companies like Google, Volvo and Mercedes claim they initially plan on taking responsibility for liabilities related to flaws in their hardware and software products. Tech makers and insurers could also begin relying on situational risk-assessing devices, like vehicles that use sensors to determine whether their human occupants are under the influence of alcohol or driving in extreme traffic.

Emerging vehicle technology will change the way people get around, but it's also likely to transform how they deal with collisions. Those who injured in accidents caused by automated systems instead of inattentive drivers may need legal assistance when making a determination as to the party or parties that should bear financial responsibility.

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