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Who Is To Blame?

General Motors is poised to release its first self-driving car in 2017. Will the public be ready for such a leap?

At the turn of the 20 th century, so-called " horseless carriages" were slow to catch on. But now, people routinely hail taxi cabs, allow friends to drive on long trips, and are open to the idea of chauffeurs. One observer even predicts that people may no longer need to be in the car at all, and a busy family could send the car to pick up the kids after football practice.

Google's driverless car project has logged some 700,000 miles, although there have been a number of reported crashes.

No one is really sure what driverless cars in California will mean for traffic tickets. There are some predictions that the loss of speeding ticket revenue would be catastrophic. At the very least, the new technology raises the question of responsibility for traffic tickets.

It seems clear that the driver would still get the ticket. The law already makes landowners responsible for dangerous property conditions that they may not have known about or been able to control. The same theory would probably apply to the owner of a driverless car.

We already see this part of the law emerging in driver-assist cars. For example, the Hyundai Genesis can detect photo-enforcement speeding cameras. It then takes action to warn the driver and even slow the car. If an officer issued a speeding ticket, a driver who tried to blame the car for getting the ticket may be laughed out of court in Kern County.

Regardless of how smart your car is, the traffic ticket will still have your name on it.