Canadians are starting to purchase vehicles that claim to reduce the burden of driving. Tesla claims to be selling, for example, vehicles with “full self-driving capability”. In addition, Tesla claims the Model 3 will recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs providing automatic driving on city streets. In the small print Tesla, However, says the vehicle still requires active driver supervision.

The Politics of Driverless Cars

The BC Conservative party have proposed legislation to allow autonomous vehicle testing on BC roads. They claim both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP are going to miss autonomous vehicle technology opportunities at the maturation point. However, many of the innovative companies are setting up in Ontario, with the government assisting with infrastructure.

Furthermore, not all manufacturers will take legal responsibility if a person is injured while the vehicle is in fully autonomous mode. Suing the Driverless Car will be therefore more about liability of manufacturers than creating a new legal person. The Politicians need to create legislation which promotes quality of life and full compensation for innocent injury victims.

Lack of Driverless Car Legislation

In 2019 it is not legal to operate a driverless car, despite testing in Ontario starting in 2016. In British Columbia the motor vehicle legislation does not directly address autonomous vehicles.

There are currently three barriers to suing a self-driving car:

  1. The autonomous driving system is not legally recognized as the driver under motor vehicle legislation. HAV Systems (Highly automated vehicles) make all the driving decisions in most driverless vehicle designs.
  2. The law requires a human driver to operate the motor vehicle.
  3. There are no reporting requirements for a driver-less car in the event of a crash.

Driverless Car Capabilities

In the current legal framework, human drivers and owners are liable for misuse of automated functions. Manufacturers are unwilling to take responsibility until the human driver has been removed from the equation.

However, the biggest barrier to suing a self-driving car? No combination of hardware and software are collectively capable of performing the entire dynamic driving task on a sustained basis. This may soon change.

We’ll be discussing for-profit autonomous ride sharing in the next autonomous law post.

Are Self-Driving Cars Legal 2019?