Florida’s governor approved a bill regulating the operation of autonomous vehicles, and the companies that own the trucks and technology owe a duty to ensure residents’ safety. If a self-driving vehicle injures you or causes damage to your property, you have the right to pursue a legal action against its owner. Under the bill, autonomous vehicle owners must carry an insurance policy, much as the requirements hold for human motor vehicle operators.

According to Forbes magazine, the Sunshine State anticipates a surge in unmanned autonomous trucks over the next two years. Testing of driverless trucks for commercial purposes is already underway on stretches of the Florida Turnpike. While transportation companies continue with studies to prove that technology-driven trucks are safer than human drivers, the future real-world implications may still be uncertain.

Autonomous vehicles require experienced human operators to control them remotely. Generally, former truck drivers trained to operate commercial trucks sit inside of a remote location and navigate a tractor-trailer through a control panel. They may direct a truck to backup, switch lanes and park with the assistance of vehicle sensors and AI technology. Some autonomous vehicles may also have a human driver sitting in the cab who only intervenes when a problem arises.

Human motorists and pedestrians, however, may not have a full enough understanding of how to effectively avoid catastrophic accidents with autonomous vehicles. Programmed algorithms may alert a remote operator that there is an issue with an autonomous vehicle, but a human driving a personal vehicle may not be able to respond as quickly to prevent a collision. Driverless commercial trucks may allow companies to reduce their shipping fees, but it will not absolve them of liability for injuries, death and damages.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and not intended as legal advice.