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NHTSA says computer can be driver in self-driving car

Connecticut drivers will still have to wait some time before they see driverless cars on the roads, but based on a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Google, at least of the obstacles will be removed. The NHTSA has said that the software system driving the car can be considered the driver for the purposes of federal law.

However, a number of other issues remain. For example, cars have an alert that notify drivers when tire pressure is low, and manufacturers now must work out how the computer will be alerted and whether the passengers in the car should be as well. Some safety regulations will need to be considered and potentially rewritten. For example, cars are required to have a brake that can operated by a foot. Google has expressed concern that allowing humans to override the judgment of the cars will actually make the cars less safe.

The NHTSA plans to issue guidelines within a few months, but it may take years for regulations concerning everything from vehicle design to operation of controls to be written. Google may have the option to ask that it be exempt from some regulations. The company is likely to pair with veteran car manufacturers in order to produce the driverless vehicles.

As long as people instead of computers are still driving cars, there will be accidents as a result of texting and driving, drunk driving and other negligent actions. These accidents can result in serious injuries for others on the road at the time. The driver who is responsible may be uninsured, but even if a driver has insurance, the injured person may be offered too little to cover medical expenses. In this case, the injured person might want to speak to an attorney about the available options. Filing a lawsuit against the driver may be one possibility.

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