' Philip Brown | MTTLR

My Car Broke the Law

As automated vehicles start to appear on the streets—and more right around the corner—what happens if and when these vehicles break the law? Are there situations where they should be allowed to break the law? Most people envision that they will be able to get in a car, enter their destination, and take a nap. No driving. No driver. No worries. While automation in transportation is approaching this point—first with automated safety features and advanced driver-assistance systems, and now the deployment of some level of automated vehicles on the market—many hard questions still remain. One of these questions is if automated vehicles should follow every traffic regulation at all times. Although it seems like common sense that traffic regulations are created to protect drivers, and that automated vehicles should follow these rules, social norms dictate that driving today is not as simple as blindly following laws. Deviations from the traffic laws occur in many common situations. Common scenarios like speeding to merge into a narrow space on the highway or crossing a solid lane marker to avoid a collision occur when people habitually break the law without fear of enforcement. These are simply implicit common-sense behaviors that have become norms in the world of driving. Early testing of automated vehicles shows that not abiding by these norms can actually cause more accidents because other drivers do not expect certain strict adherence from vehicles on the road. Car crashes caused almost 40,000 deaths in 2016, and human error caused a huge percentage of these accidents. Automated vehicles could potentially cut these deaths significantly, and early data shows that these vehicles...