Report from Joplin
The Joplin Globe is reporting on an unwelcome visit from another hot air storm. Eight Hundred Dollar Hanaway blew into town to promote here 2016 run for Missouri Governor. Unable to present anyone in Joplin who benefited (except herself) from her prior public service, she instead offered his platform for economic growth for 2017:
Hanaway focused her remarks on how to improve the state’s economy. She pledged she would seek three things: making Missouri a “right-to-work” state, which would disallow unions from charging representation dues to non-union employees; elimination of the state’s income tax and transition to a “consumption tax” model; and reform of the state’s tort laws by placing a cap on damages.
Let’s take the last agenda item first. Hanaway apparently hasn’t been through a check out line recently. If she had she would have noticed that by the time her prayed for term starts we are going to be well into the driverless car revolution and with it the disappearance of most tort cases.
Colin Lewis, writing at Robotenomics.com, reminds us that conservative legislators have always stood in the way of rapid adoption of new technologies:
When the first steam powered cars (or locomotives as they were then called) first took to the roads in the early 1860’s it was feared that engines and their trailers might endanger the safety of the public, cause fatal accidents, block narrow lanes, and disturb the locals by operating at night. Many complained the cars were scaring the horses meanwhile the farmers were shooting the cars!
To allay the concerns, restrictions and speed limits were imposed by the Locomotive Act of 1865 (more popularly known as the “Red Flag Act“) which required all road locomotives, which included automobiles, to travel at a maximum of 4 mph (6.4 km/h) in the country and 2 mph (3.2 km/h) in the city – as well as requiring a man carrying a red flag or lantern to walk in front of road vehicles. The Act also included such matters as “Damage caused by locomotives to bridges to be made good by the vehicle owners.” However it was soon discovered that the steam carriages’ brakes and their wide tyres caused less damage to the roads than horse-drawn carriages because of the absence of horses’ hooves striking the road and wheels which did not lock and drag as they did on horse drawn carriages.
In the latter part of the 1800’s the British Motor Syndicate began a public relations campaign to lobby for the repeal of the Locomotive Act, which was declared the main obstacle to wider adoption of the car in Britain. The Act of 1865 was repealed in 1896.
Almost 120 years later we stand at the precipice of a new dawn in the age of the automobile – self-driving cars. Everything, from how we move goods to how we move ourselves around, is ripe for change.
Self-driving cars will require legislators to make new amendments to the current Highways Acts in place. There is already considerable debate surrounding the legal issues of driverless cars, the ethical concerns and questions over the liability of who to sue when a driverless car is involved in an accident.
The mere fact that Hanaway spoke of the past rather than the future legal issues of tort law is the No. 1 Reason to just say, NO!