Those residents of Costa Mesa and other parts of Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area who pay attention to the news probably realize that cars are getting more and more automated. There are already some cars on the market or being tested that can, to a large extent, operate with minimal involvement from the driver.
However, with this increased use of technology, as convenient as it is, there also come additional safety risks. The technology can fail outright, which can cause an accident. In other cases, the technology may work, but may do so only in a confusing or unexpected manner. Again, the end result could be a serious accident.
A recent case involving Chrysler illustrates the latter point. The parent company of Chrysler recently announced that it was recalling almost five million of its vehicles that are on the market. The recall was due to an error in the vehicles' software systems which, in rare circumstances, could cause a vehicle's cruise control to start working improperly.
While a cruise control turning off unexpectedly might be relatively easy to deal with, a cruise control function that remains on when it should not could be disastrous. Fortunately, drivers in the affected vehicles are able to use their brakes to force the cruise control system off; one can only hope that the driver would remember to do so in that moment of panic where he or she realizes that his or her high-tech vehicles is not working properly.
Although the march toward automated vehicles will in all likelihood continue, drivers will need to be aware of the fact that software problems will no doubt happen, and they'll need to be able to do quick workarounds. Those who manufacture this software will need to take the utmost care in their design and testing, as the failure to do so could lead to a product liability lawsuit.