In 2019, the governor of Florida signed a driverless cars law that enables these vehicles to operate on Florida roads without a person behind the wheel of the vehicle. Florida is currently one of only three states that have taken this action to help promote the driverless car industry.
Are Driverless Cars Legal In Florida?
At this time, Florida vehicle laws allow driverless cars to operate in the state, but only under specific guidelines.
To operate a self-driving vehicle in Florida, the car must:
- Have a visible and audible warning system to alert passengers of any system failures
- Have an operating system that will pull the car off the road automatically if a system failure occurs
Florida also requires that owners of a driverless vehicle must report any accidents immediately to law enforcement, and the insurance policies on the vehicles must meet driverless vehicle minimum requirements. In Florida, the rates for insurance will depend on if it is a personal or commercial vehicle.
Florida is being used as a test state as tech companies try to master the driverless technologies necessary for these vehicles to keep them operating safely.
States Where Self Driving Cars Are Legal
As of March 2021, Florida, Texas, and Michigan are the only states that allow self-driving cars to operate on their roads at this time.
Twenty-six other states and Washington D.C. have already started making regulations about this industry but have not fully authorized these vehicles to operate on the roads.
However, this is expected to change drastically as the technology develops and more vehicles are ready to use.
Where Are Self Driving Cars Legal To Test?
Most states are allowing driverless vehicles to be tested in their states. This has been very good for the industry because it allows the designers to learn about different road conditions, weather conditions, and road styles. Vehicles operating on long open roads will function much differently than those going through a mountain.
Are Self Driving Cars Legal To Operate Without A License?
It is assumed at this time that anyone who owns a self-driving car will need to have a license to operate the vehicle. This is to ensure that the vehicle can be driven in the event that the self-driving features are disabled in any way. Of course, if you are a passenger in one of these vehicles, a license will not be required.
What The Future Holds
The driverless vehicle industry is very unique and will present many questions that the law must answer as the industry becomes integrated into the public for use. Questions that lawmakers may not have thought of will arise, and current laws and regulations may no longer apply.
It is hard to say what the exact laws will be for these vehicles once their use has become widespread. However, it can be assumed that many of the current vehicle laws and insurance requirements will remain the same for these vehicles.
One big question about driverless cars is should the owner or the manufacturer be at fault in an accident if it was the driverless car’s fault? The answer is currently not clear.
What To Do If You Are In An Accident With A Self-Driving Car
If you’re in an accident with a self-driving car or autonomous vehicle, your initial steps should be the same as if you were in an accident with any other vehicle.
First, ensure the situation is safe. Ideally, both drivers can drive to the side of the road.
Secondly, check for injuries. If there are any, seek medical help.
The third step is to collect information from the other driver (if possible) or have a police report filed.
In the case of autonomous vehicles, this can be tricky if there was no driver and no passengers, or maybe the passenger doesn’t have the drivers info. Owners of autonomous vehicles who aren’t driving or even in the car should contact law enforcement immediately to inform them of an accident and give their info. If you were the driver of the other car, you would want to contact law enforcement as well to notify them and to seek to collect information about the other car.
It’s important to note that you should not admit fault for an accident, even if you initially feel you may have caused the accident.
Lastly, if you require roadside assistance with your vehicle, like getting towed, it’s time to seek that out.