Driver Error Causes Majority of Self-Driving Car AccidentsSeptember 12, 2017
A self-driving car is intended to reduce car accidents caused by human behavior or error. The autonomous cars on the road today are capable of steering, acceleration, and deceleration of the vehicle, but a human driver is still needed behind the wheel to ensure safe operation. The current data on the safety of these vehicles indicates that the self-driven cars are doing their job. Accidents involving the automated vehicles have been low, with the majority of them being attributed to human error.
Speeding, running a red light, rear-ending a vehicle, and distracted driving are common examples of driver error that result in car accidents. A self-driving car is programmed to maintain a mandated speed limit, keep a safe distance from the car in front of them, and to survey the surrounding area before making turns and lane changes. The human driver is able to switch to a manual mode at any time while in the self-driving car. Current data indicates that this is when most of the wrecks have happened.
In the 34 accidents reported in California over the past three years involving self-driven cars, only four were found to be the fault of the self-driven car. In three of these cases, human drivers were sharing control of the vehicle at the time the accident occurred. Only one of these four accidents was directly attributed to the fault of the self-driving car when it was in autonomous mode.
What is interesting to note is that in most of the accidents, human driven cars were the ones that collided with self-driving cars while they were stopped at red lights or traffic signs, or when they were driving at low speeds. Data analysts focusing on the safety of self-driven cars report that the ratio of accidents per miles driven is far below that of human-driven cars. Self-driven cars have an average of one accident for every 50,000 miles driven by a car in autonomous mode.
The Future of Self-Driving Cars
There are currently 36 companies that have obtained permits to test self-driven cars on California roadways, with Apple and Uber being two of those recently licensed. As automated cars become more prevalent, questions regarding liability are sure to follow. In the event of an accident involving a self-driven car, it is yet to be determined where liability falls when the automated car is at fault. Hopefully, the justice system will be able to keep pace with this ever-evolving technology.
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