Self-driving cars may seem like something out of a science fiction novel, but several companies are testing prototypes of these types of vehicles. In fact, it is estimated in some reports that by 2020 there will be 10 million self-driving cars on roads across the nation. However, people in Georgia and elsewhere may wonder if such vehicles are truly safe and whether they will prevent car accidents from occurring.
Self-driving cars do take away the factor of human error, at least to a certain extent. In 2016, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving were the top three causes of all motor vehicle accident deaths in the nation. In fact, human error is a factor in around 94 percent of motor vehicle accidents.
However, crashes involving self-driving cars do occur. In one instance, a self-driving car struck a pedestrian, causing that pedestrian to die. In another instance, a semi-autonomous vehicle collided with a concrete wall, killing one person. And, while in the above two incidents extenuating factors were at play in the crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in one self-driving vehicle crash involving a truck, the cause of the crash was a systems failure and the circumstances surrounding the collision were “beyond the performance capabilities” of the vehicle.
As this shows, more work needs to be done to ensure self-driving automobiles can safely share the roads with other vehicles and pedestrians. While human error may not be as big of a concern with self-driving vehicles, the vehicle’s operating system must be effective in surveying the environment to avoid a crash. When a self-driving vehicle injures or kills another motorist or pedestrian, the injured party may want to hold the manufacturer and other responsible parties liable for the crash. So, while it will be interesting to see how the future of self-driving vehicles will unfold, it must be a future that keeps safety in mind.