In November, self-driving cars finally got the green light in Canada. As Engadget reports, the country’s first self-driving cars hit Ontario roads, including cars manufactured by three organizations with government approval.
While the addition of self-driving cars to Canada’s roads may be an exciting development from a technological standpoint, it does raise questions about crash-avoidance systems and their efficacy as well as liability in the event that a car accident occurs.
Three Organizations Granted Permission to Test Self-Driving Cars
Three organizations in Canada were granted permission by the Ontario government to start testing self-driving cars, as reported by Business Insider. Those organizations are:
- BlackBerry – The phone company has switched its focus from hand-held mobile devices to self-driving cars, entering an agreement with the auto manufacturing company Ford to allow for BlackBerry to develop software technology for the company’s vehicles.
- University of Waterloo’s Center for Automotive Research – Partnering primarily with automakers, the University of Waterloo’s Center for Automotive Research has been granted permission to test its newest vehicle technologies and provide the results of those tests to its partners. The arrangement may open the doors for more automotive companies to manufacturer or enhance their personalized versions of self-driving cars.
- Erwin Hymer Group – The German-based company has yet to release a strategy for testing self-driving vehicles, but rumor has it that the business may focus on the testing of self-driving motor homes.
Ontario the Perfect Place for Testing Automotive Vehicles
While Canada may be behind the U.S. when it comes to testing self-driving vehicles, Business Insider explains why Ontario may be the ideal place for the process now.
First, weather conditions in the province change rapidly throughout the year. This is beneficial. Self-driving cars need to be tested in various types of weather to prove they are up to the challenge, regardless of how poor conditions may be.
Second, while the U.S. recently passed tough regulations for the testing and use of self-driving vehicles, Ontario’s regulatory framework for the testing of self-driving vehicles is much friendlier to manufacturers, allowing for such tests to be conducted with fewer limits.
Ontario’s regulations require a licensed driver to be in the vehicle at all times, but place no restrictions on where the vehicle may travel. What’s more, Apple has been hiring software engineers within the area, hinting that the technology giant may soon join the new wave of self-driving car testing in the region.
Will Self-Driving Cars Become the Norm in Canada?
If you love technology, do not get too excited about self-driving cars in Canada just yet. While testing has begun, the vehicles will likely not become commercial for some time.
This is due to the fact that technology continues to remain extremely expensive, putting it out of reach for the average consumer. Further, there are still very few regulations regarding the vehicles, creating questions about liability in the event that something with the vehicles goes wrong.
Also, many consumers still do not have trust in the vehicles. So, even if they were made available for purchase, sales may not surge immediately.
How Will ICBC Handle Claims Involving Self-Driving Vehicles?
The fact that the self-driving cars are equipped with high-tech crash avoidance systems does not mean that they will never be involved in accidents.
While there have not been any reported self-driving car crashes in Canada, self-driving vehicles in the U.S. have been involved in a handful of accidents. It is only a matter of time before a self-driving car in Canada is involved in an accident, too.
In the event that a self-driving car is involved in a crash in British Columbia, an interesting dilemma will be presented for ICBC: Who will be liable for the accident?
It is assumed that all self-driving vehicles in British Columbia (and Ontario) will be required to carry insurance. As such, ICBC claims will likely follow the same format as current claims:
Drivers’ basic autoplan Part 7 insurance will pay for some medical costs and wage losses regardless of fault, while each driver’s liability coverage will be applied to compensate innocent injured parties.
In some cases, the manufacturer of a self-driving vehicle may be held liable for damages if the accident occurred as the result of a manufacturing error. In other cases, the driver or owner of the self-driving vehicle may be liable.
Understanding Liability after a Crash and the Effect of Self-Driving Cars
Self-driving cars have yet to be introduced to BC. You do not need to worry about liability in the event of an accident quite yet.
However, it is likely only a matter of time before self-driving vehicles make it to Vancouver. When they do, regulations and laws may change significantly.
If you are involved in a crash with any vehicle type – self-driving or not – it is important that you understand the process for seeking compensation after a crash and filing a claim with ICBC.
At Klein Lawyers, LLP, our team is experienced in car accident cases. We can help you to pursue maximum compensation.
We will open an investigation into your accident, gather evidence to establish fault, prepare your case, negotiate with an ICBC insurance adjuster and even take your case to court if a settlement cannot be reached.
Contact Our Vancouver Car Accident Lawyers Today
If you are involved in a car accident in British Columbia, turn to our law firm for legal counsel. We will work hard on your behalf. We always provide our clients the individualized attention that they deserve.
A consultation with our lawyers is completely free. We also work on a contingency fee basis. So, you never have to worry about how you will afford our services. To learn more, contact us today by phone or online.