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Self-driving cars are coming, but are Americans ready?

Automakers from around the globe are competing to be the first to introduce a self-driving vehicle on U.S. roadways, but American drivers remain skeptical of cars that operate completely autonomously.

Currently, there are many high-end and even some mid-range vehicles that already offer automated features and advanced crash avoidance technology such as blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning. But it won't stop there. Fully automated vehicles are just around the corner, whether drivers are ready or not.

A report released this week by AAA shows that while 59 percent of Americans said they would like autonomous features in their next vehicles, three out of four said they are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles. Additionally, a little more than half (54 percent) of drivers surveyed said that the idea of sharing the roadways with self-driving vehicles makes them feel less safe.

AAA's director of automotive engineering and industry relations said that the anxiety is likely caused by the fact that some drivers already have driver assistance technologies in their vehicles that don't always work as they should. He added said that while the technologies will continue to improve over time, today's features still require the driver's full participation.

Who is liable for accidents caused by self-driving cars?

After self-driving vehicles make their way onto American roadways, motor vehicle accidents are expected to be greatly reduced. However, as we all know, technology doesn't always work perfectly. Accidents will still happen, and when they do, the blame could be passed to vehicle manufacturers instead of individuals.

As a result, the Insurance Information Institute suggested that product liability laws may have to evolve in order to protect manufacturers from lawsuits that could put them out of business. But then where will motor vehicle accident victims turn for help covering medical expenses and other losses that were caused by self-driving vehicles?

Maybe the prospect of self-driving cars is scary, after all.

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