Death Proof Cars by 2020?


Before now, Death Proof was simply the title of an action-packed Quentin Tarantino thriller from 2007. Not anymore says Volvo! The engineers at Volvo have decided not to stop at fully-autonomous vehicles for which they accept full liability in the event of an accident. Volvo has now reportedly pledged that “[b]y 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car or SUV.” Wow, this is a bold claim. What is more shocking, however, is that there are apparently already some vehicles which are “fatality-free.” Behold:

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are nine vehicle models — including the Volvo XC90 — in which no one in the United States has died in at least four years.

Apparently, the technology that inspires Volvo’s confidence is the autonomous driving technology intended to remove the possibility of human error from the driving equation. But alas, there is a caveat:

If someone really wants to hurt themselves, or is just really, really stupid… well, Volvo can’t do anything about that. But, assuming you’re not a suicidal maniac or a total idiot, in four years, you’ll be safer driving a new Volvo than you are climbing a ladder to screw in a light bulb.

Perhaps we are a bit jaded, but we would suggest that the prior paragraph would be more accurate if the “ifs” are changed to “whens.” It may also be difficult to assume away “suicidal maniacs.” So what does this mean for the legal field? It may be that there will be less driver versus driver automobile accident cases litigated, and that some portion of those will be replaced by product liability cases against the automotive manufacturers.  Apparently, we will know one way or the other by 2020ish.

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