Who gets the blame?

Fully driverless cars are years away, but car manufacturers think they’ll be in showrooms by 2020, and insurance agencies and lawyers want to be prepared. So far, only California, Nevada and Florida have passed laws about this. It’s preferable for these laws to be put through at the Federal level, to avoid a patchwork of different state laws. If you had an accident while "driving" your self-propelled car in the wrong state, would you program it to leave the scene and cross the next state line? Special licenses for driverless cars are likely to be implemented in many states.

In the January 28th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Dan Strumpf quotes Gloria Berquist, of the auto makers’ alliance, as saying, "The liability costs for this could be huge."

One advantage of cars that drive themselves will be that they will leave drivers free to text their friends. While too many people do this already–believing they can multitask effectively–a new study indicates that people who multitask the most–including talking on a cell phone while driving–are LEAST capable of doing so.

Psychologist David Sanbonmatsu says, "What is alarming is that people who talk on cells phones while driving tend to be the people least able to multitask well. Our data suggest the people talking on cell phones while driving are people who probably shouldn’t. We showed that people who multitask the most are those who appear to be the least capable of multitasking effectively."

Psychologist David Strayer agrees: "The people who are most likely to multitask harbor the illusion they are better than average at it, when in fact they are no better than average and often worse. The people who multitask the most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their multitasking abilities."

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