Although the technology is still relatively new, self-driving cars are now a reality on some roads and the number of them out driving will be increasing in the coming years. But what effect will self-driving cars have on your chances (in your human-driven vehicle) of being in an auto accident?
A recent report from a US consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, claims that self-driving cars could end up reducing traffic fatalities by some 90%. “By midcentury, the penetration of AVs (autonomous vehicles) and other ADAs (advanced driver-assistance system) could ultimately cause vehicle crashes in the US to fall from second to ninth place in terms of their lethality ranking among accident types,” the report concludes.
The predicted drop is attributed to taking human emotions and errors out of the equation. Self-driving cars have sensors that can recognize what is going on around them much better than a human driver ever could. This allows the vehicles to react to what other vehicles are doing in a quicker and much more dispassionate way.
The Transition and The Impact on Auto Accidents
A major problem – and one that is already emerging despite the miniscule number of self-driving cars now on the road – will be the transition from human-driven vehicles to self-driving vehicles, a transition that could involve an initial increase in the amount of accidents on the roads. This is because of the awkward interaction between human drivers and their robot counterparts.
The problem – at least so far – is that while humans tend to treat traffic lights, speed limits and other road signs as guidelines that can be stretched depending on how heavy traffic is and if there are any police officers around, self-driving cars follow the rules of the road to the max at all times. In other words, self-driving car will always be driving at or below the speed limit, they will always stop fully for stop signs, etc.
So while many people worry that self-driving vehicles will be loose cannons out on the road, the reality is that they are much more cautious than your average human driver. And as more humans come into contact with that cautiousness, some fear that it will turn humans against the technology – even more so than they already are.
“If the cars drive in a way that’s really distinct from the way that every other motorist on the road is driving, there will be in the worst case accidents and in the best case frustration,” said Karl Iagnemma, chief executive officer of self-driving software developer NuTonomy. “What that’s going to lead to is a lower likelihood that the public is going to accept the technology.”
So if you see a self-driving car on the road, be prepared for them to follow the rules of the road to the letter.
If you have been in an auto accident, whether with a self-driving vehicle or a human-driven one, contact the experienced accident attorneys at Fetterman and Associates or call 561-845-2510 for a consultation.