Automated Vehicles Impact on the Safety of Motorcycle Riders — What Do MD Motorcyclists Need to Know

The settlement of the first lawsuit involving a motorcycle and an autonomous vehicle occurred in June of 2018. According to Reuters, General Motors Co. (GM) agreed to settle the California lawsuit with Oscar Nilsson. Nilsson alleged that GM was liable for damages arising from his motorcycle accident in 2017. The lawsuit claimed that the self-driving vehicle (GM Cruise) “suddenly veered back” into the lane striking Nilsson’s motorcycle. Nilsson was knocked to the ground and suffered several injuries.

However, GM alleges that Nilsson was at fault according to a police report, even though he was not issued a traffic citation. GM states that the crash took place when the Cruise was in heavy traffic and attempted to merge into the left lane. A vehicle slowed down resulting in the Cruise aborting the lane change and re-centering itself in the center lane. Nilsson had lane-split (which is legal in California) between two vehicles and moved into the center lane glancing the side of the Cruise. Neither party disclosed the terms of the settlement.

Unfortunately, the issue of automated vehicles and motorcycles is far from settled. The issue of whether automated vehicles have a positive or negative impact on the safety of motorcycles is strongly debated.

Possible Concerns For Motorcycle Safety Related to Automated Vehicles

The AMA acknowledges that automated vehicles may improve motorcyclist safety and save lives. The Association “welcomes” the potential automatic vehicles hold for decreasing the number of motorcycle crashes. However, the Association has several concerns related to automatic vehicles and motorcycles.

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has taken a strong position regarding automated vehicles and motorcycle safety. According to the AMA, its position regarding automated vehicles and V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) & V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) communication systems is that thorough testing is required to maximize crash avoidance with motorcycles. The AMA is concerned that the push to place automated vehicles on the road to increase sales places motorcyclists at risk for injury and death if the relationship between automated vehicles and motorcyclist safety is not adequately addressed.

The AMA continues to monitor the matter closely and lobbies to include issues related to motorcycle safety in the development and implementation of regulations and policies that govern automated vehicles. It calls for the government to enact guidelines, policies, and regulations that ensure motorcyclist safety is a factor in the development and deployment of automated vehicles. The AMA also believes that sanctions for violations of the regulations are required to ensure compliance and to protect motorcyclist safety.

The Potential for Improved Safety for Motorcyclists

The AMA notes that with testing and regulations, automated vehicles do have the potential for improving motorcyclist safety. Other motorcycle advocacy groups and organizations echo this opinion. The federal affairs manager of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) claimed that automated vehicles were a “life and death matter” for motorcyclists.

Speaking at a meeting hosted by MIC and the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus, Mr. Hoyt stated that “Visibility on the road can equate to life or death for motorcyclists, and human error is a major factor in that equation.” Mr. Hoyt went on to say that if “automated technologies are developed to correctly detect and respond to motorcycles, their deployment holds the potential to considerably decrease motorcyclist injury and fatality rates.”

Autonomous Vehicles and Motorcycle Safety – The Bottom Line

Depending on the source, automated vehicles will greatly increase motorcyclist safety, or they will place riders at further risk because AV technology is not adequate to detect and avoid crashes with motorcycles. As technology continues to develop and more autonomous vehicles are on the road, the laws related to motorcycle accidents involving automated vehicles may also evolve. Because each case is unique, liable parties are determined by the factors that led to the cause of the motorcycle accident.

Motorcyclists involved in a crash with an automated vehicle should consult an experienced Maryland motorcycle accident attorney. If the vehicle owner, software designer, developer, or the manufacturer was negligent in the development and implementation of the technology, you might be entitled to compensation for your damages, injuries, and losses. Because these cases involve complex areas of law and evolving technology, consulting an attorney who has experience handling product liability claims, in addition to motorcycle accident claims, is highly advised.

Contact Our Maryland Motorcycle Accident Attorneys for a Free Case Review

If your injury is the result of a motorcycle crash, we want to help. Contact Pinder Plotkin for a FREE consultation with a Parkville motorcycle accident attorney. Call 410-661-9440 now to talk to a knowledgeable member of our legal team.

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