General Motors is continuously increasing the size of its fleet of autonomous cars just as more and more accidents are being reported. In September 2017 alone, six accidents were reported of GM autonomous cars being involved in an accident. All six were between autonomous cars and those driven by real people. A spokesperson for GM, Rebecca Mark, claimed all incidents this year were caused by a human driver. Their comment is that as real drivers and autonomous cars become more acquainted with each other on the road, there will be less accidents.
The question on many minds is, who pays for the damages if one of these self-driving cars happens to be at fault? With so many self-driving cars on the road, especially in San Francisco, many people are wondering who is at fault in the aftermath of a wreck and where does the insurance payout come from. It is an especially perplexing question since these types of cars are said to be manufactured to avoid that issue all together. While GM says it will take all responsibility for any accident their cars are responsible for, they also say it is too early to tell what any liability issues will entail and they are learning as they go.
Legally speaking, as soon as a car begins to drive in autonomous mode, the driver or rider is passing off all responsibility. Liability shifts to the auto manufacturer. The new Super Cruise model of the Cadillac CT6 allowed drivers to enjoy a level two of automation. In level two, drivers are still in control of the car but the car assists. The driver is still liable for all accidents he or she incurs.
GM’s most recent advancements put them closer to level three and four automation modes. In those modes, the car completely takes over the driving process. It is in these modes; General Motors will be liable for accidents. Volvo has also said they will take full responsibility for all accidents in their self-driving cars.