This week we’ve looked at self-driving cars and motor vehicle accidents. The automobile industry praises self-driving technology as a tool for substantially reducing the nearly 40,000 fatalities that annually occur on our nation’s roads. The transition to this technology will not occur overnight. Testing robotics and artificial intelligence on public roads is a scary proposition since serious injury and death are potential consequences. However, industry experts agree that autonomous vehicle (AV) technology won’t offer any utility in making driving safer without testing on public roads and highways.
Currently, only California requires the autonomous-vehicle industry to submit and report details about their testing programs. Since these regulations became effective in 2014, 104 collision reports have been submitted, 49 alone in 2018. Of the 49 collision reports submitted so far this year, 28 or 57% were the results of rear-end collisions. For 22 of these 28 crashes, the vehicle was in autonomous mode. This raises the question of whether autonomous vehicles are performing in such a way that they are prone to rear-end crashes.
Sideswipe accidents are the next most common AV collisions, numbering 14 or 29% of the total number of collisions. Human frustration may be the cause of these accidents as impatient drivers, upset at getting stuck behind a slow-moving or stopped vehicle, may cause an accident when trying to overtake an AV.
Based on their programmed artificial intelligence, AVs tend to be focused on safety in a most conservative manner. Since they are not programmed to behave like human drivers, they tend to operate in a manner that observes traffic regulations with regularity and consistency, unlike most human drivers. Hence, they may repeatedly stop and start in a herky-jerky fashion or stop for no clear reason if safety dictates that particular action.
Good drivers behave in ways that others expect. Since human drivers may be prone to expect an AV to act like a human-controlled vehicle, it’s reasonable to conclude that human drivers may tend to rear-end self-driving cars based on false expectations. It is important that the AV industry disseminate knowledge to consumers about these vehicles and their operation, especially how they tend to behave in and respond to each and every possible driving circumstance.
One of the most important things to do after any type of accident is to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney. If you have been injured and require assistance in determining whether you have a potential personal injury cause of action, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777 or visit us online. The attorneys and staff of Powell Law carry on the work of a law firm that spans generations and has represented thousands of Pennsylvanians over a period of 113 years. The consultation is free and you don’t pay any fees unless we win your case! Call today.