California may limit liability of self-driving carmakers

SAN FRANCISCO — California regulators are embracing a General Motors recommendation that would help automakers avoid paying for accidents and other trouble caused by self-driving cars.

That’s raising concerns that the proposal will put an unfair burden on vehicle owners.

Critics say that regulations drafted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles could open a loophole for automakers to skirt responsibility for accidents, injuries and deaths caused by defective self-driving cars — for instance, if tires are slightly underinflated or the oil hasn’t been changed as regularly as manufacturers suggest.

The DMV wording drew from a GM recommendation intended to protect self-driving carmakers from lawsuits if a vehicle hasn’t been maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications.

That’s a change from current liability laws governing cars driven by humans.