According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, software guiding autonomous cars could be considered the driver of the vehicle. Such a ruling could make it easier for state regulators to accept these types of vehicles on public roadways. In a letter to Google, the agency said that it would consider the self-driving system to be the driver and not any of the occupants in the vehicle.
This was in response to a proposal Google submitted in November 2015 to design a self-driving car with no need for a human driver. Currently, state and federal laws have required some sort of human presence in an autonomous or self-driving vehicle. California has proposed that all cars retain a steering wheel and a licensed human driver while in operation. According to Kelley Blue Book, the NHTSA clarifying the definition of driver could streamline the process of putting a self-driving car on the road.
Google believes that allowing humans to take control of a self-driving vehicle could be dangerous. In some cases, they may try to override the system and take over the steering, braking and acceleration on their own. However, the NHTSA says that regulations requiring dashboard alerts and brakes that can be controlled by a human foot cannot be immediately rewritten, meaning Google may need to comply with those regulations in the short term.
People who are involved in car accidents are often seriously injured and face long periods of rehabilitation during which they are unable to return to work. If it can be determined that such an accident was the result of the negligence of another motorist, an injured victim may want to have the help of a personal injury attorney in seeking compensation from the at-fault driver for these and other losses.