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Driverless Cars Will Change the Legal Landscape, Is Utah Ready?

A recent article in the Deseret News questions whether or not the state of Utah is ready for driverless cars. As Google and a number of other companies race to get legal approval for their driverless cars, many lawmakers and regulators are hesitating.

Before driverless cars are made legal in Utah, writer Jay Evensen points out a few legal challenges that until fulfilled, should keep driverless cars off of Utah roads – and it's not just assigning liability in an accident.

For example, what of our oldest drivers on the road? We all know someone who has grown too old to safely drive on our roadways, but what about a driverless car? IF they don't hold a valid driver's license, should they still be allowed to use these self-driving cars?

Evensen even brings up children. It may sound ludicrous to us now, but in a few years the thought strapping a child into a seat, programming a destination, and shipping the child out doesn't seem so farfetched. After all, the car will have the capabilities to safely navigate the roadways to its destination.

With regards to age limits, will driving laws need to be changed altogether. Instead of the hallmark age of 16, will becoming a legal driver come down to one's ability to "demonstrate the ability to program a destination in order to receive a special driverless car license?" Again, this sounds wild to us now, but technology is moving much faster than our legal system, and this type of situation is not as far off as you may think.

Utah is still working hard to implement texting and driving laws, and it may very well be the case that by the time these laws are solidified and fully-functional, we'll be tackling driverless cars. Will texting in a driverless car still be breaking the law?

Finally, Evensen wonders about the regulations the state will impose to deem driverless cars safe for Utah roads. What type of inspection or test must they pass in order to "prove their worthiness for the road?" Companies like Google and Tesla tell us that their self-driving software is safe in traffic, but is the state to take these companies at their word?

Many transportation experts predict driverless cars will be commonplace on American roadway in a decade. The buzz around self-driving cars has ignited manufacturing competition that will undoubtedly speed up the innovation and release of these futuristic cars.

While many people try to sort out who will be held responsible for self-driving car accidents, there are a litany of other legal problems these driverless cars present. Many wonder if the state's lawmakers will be prepared for the inevitable arrival of driverless cars in Utah.