Self-Driving Cars: Legal, Social, and Ethical Aspects

14 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2017

See all articles by Mahmood Shubbak

Mahmood Shubbak

University of Bremen - Faculty of Business Studies and Economics

Date Written: December 18, 2013


Road safety statistics show a large number of casualties due to traffic accidents all over the world, which challenges the researchers and vehicle manufacturers to develop new technologies to reduce. In the last few years, vehicles that are capable of navigating autonomously (without a driver) have been developed and are expected to be released to the market in the near future. The testing of these cars is legally allowed in three American states, and some tests are also being conducted in some European countries. This new technology has many potential advantages; however the use of such cars in public roads can raise many questions. In this paper, the legal, social, and ethical questions of self-driving cars are raised, in order to figure out to what extent the current applicable laws and regulations can answer them. The legal questions are sorted into six groups; reliability, insurance, regulations, behaviours, liability, and security questions, while the social and ethical questions are grouped into three categories; privacy, behaviours, and social impact. Moreover, some legal ideas and recommendations for the future laws are suggested. To achieve a better understanding of the topic, a brief description of the autonomous cars’ technology and components is also provided.

Keywords: self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles, laws-regulations, liability, legal-social aspects

JEL Classification: K10, O30, P37, Z13

Suggested Citation

Shubbak, Mahmood, Self-Driving Cars: Legal, Social, and Ethical Aspects (December 18, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Mahmood Shubbak (Contact Author)

University of Bremen - Faculty of Business Studies and Economics ( email )

Bremen, D-28359

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