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California DMV Publishes Self-Driving Vehicle Accident Reports

Self-Driving CarThe California Department of Motor Vehicles recently announced that it will begin posting all autonomous automobile accident reports on its official website. The action was spurred by Consumer Watchdog, a group that petitioned the DMV to amend its regulations regarding driverless car testing on public roads. 

Current Self-Driving Testing Regulations

In California, the DMV regulates the reporting of accidents involving autonomous vehicles. Currently, those rules only require that, in the event that an accident is caused by an autonomous vehicle and results in property damage, bodily injury, or death, the manufacturers must provide the DMV with an accident report within 10 days of the accident. In the report, the manufacturer must provide the name and address of all people involved in the crash, as well as a description of how the accident occurred. Until last month, those reports could not be obtained without individual filings of Public Records Act requests.

Originally, the DMV explained its lack of transparency in publishing accident reports as being primarily motivated by the privacy concerns of those involved in the accident. To alleviate those concerns, the DMV redacts all personal identifying information in the published versions of the accident reports. The DMV is not permitted to leave out details like vehicle speeds, the location of the accident, and the specific circumstances of each crash in the reports.

Additional Regulations Needed

Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, acknowledges that publishing accident reports is a step in the right direction towards increased transparency, but says that more regulation is still needed. For example, in its most recent formal rulemaking request, the group petitioned the DMV to institute a regulation requiring that all accidents involving autonomous vehicles be independently investigated by law enforcement.

Furthermore, the group argued that the manufacturer of the self-driving vehicles should be required to hand over any video or recorded data related to the accident to the DMV and local law enforcement. Finally, Consumer Watchdog asked the DMV to release all reports recording incidents where autonomous technology disengaged and human intervention was required.

This request for third-party verification of accidents is part of a growing concern among citizens that the state’s lax regulation of self-driving vehicles relies too much on reporting by the manufacturers themselves as well as the increasing number of self-driving cars on the road. This summer, the number of self-driving cars doubled, reaching 77 in California, with more expansions expected in the near future. Additionally, Google recently reported that its 20+ cars were averaging approximately 10,000 self-driven miles per week and that the cars had driven over one million miles in a six-year period.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, an attorney can help you recover compensation for any injuries you sustained. Please contact the experienced San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation.

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