Gunster business litigator John Terwilleger was quoted in a recent Quartz article about Florida’s legal preparations for the use of self-driving cars on public roadways.

According to the article, Florida HB 7027, which unanimously passed in the Florida Legislature in April of this year, is the first law legalizing completely self-driving cars (i.e., without requiring the physical presence of a driver) on public roads. Read the article: How Florida became the most important U.S. state in the race to legalize self-driving cars (Quartz, 9/20/16).

Gunster attorney John TerwillegerTerwilleger says in the article that the first law passed oftentimes becomes model legislation for other states seeking to do the same.

A South Carolina law professor tells Quartz the Florida law lays good groundwork for future legal guidance on the use and potential ramifications of self-driving cars.

While safety is brought up as an issue of concern with self-driving cars, Florida Senator Jeff Brandes says in the article that the vast majority of driving deaths are the result of human error, which self-driving vehicles may help correct. On Sept. 19, the U.S. Department of Transportation released safety standard guidelines.

As more states jump on the autonomous vehicle bandwagon, car owners may wish to proceed with caution in what has become a legally murky area. Even simple questions such as what exactly constitutes a self-driving car, or who is responsible in the event of a crash, are up for interpretation, according to the article.

Last year, Terwilleger wrote an article discussing some of the details of Florida’s laws on the subject. Read the article: Navigating the road ahead: Florida’s autonomous vehicle statute and its effect on liability (The Florida Bar Journal, July/August 2015, Vol. 89, No. 7)

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Last updated 2/20/17


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