Self Driving Car Accident

September 10, 2020 | McCormick & Murphy's Blog

Self Driving Car

Nobody expects that they will get hurt in a serious car crash when they leave their homes, especially not in a collision involving an autonomous vehicle. Yet the notion of a self driving car accident is no longer a thing of the past. Indeed, in recent years, autonomous vehicles have been tested on roadways, and many have actually been involved in serious collisions. While self-driving cars were originally designed to prevent motor vehicle collisions caused by human error, recent research suggests that autonomous vehicles might not be as effective at preventing collisions as some self-driving vehicle designers and manufacturers originally hoped. To be sure, self-driving cars may cause some collisions while failing to prevent others. 

Recent History of Self-Driving Vehicle Collisions in the U.S.

In the last five years, self-driving cars have been cited in a number of collisions in the U.S., including in some fatal crashes. An article in Digital Trends cited six notable self-driving car accidents that led researchers and consumers alike to reconsider whether the benefits of autonomous vehicle technology actually outweighed the risk. That article cites some of the following self-driving car wrecks since 2016:

  1. In July of 2015, a self-driving Google Lexus was rear-ended in Mountain View, California, and three Google employees, who were occupants of the self-driving Lexus, sustained injuries that included minor whiplash, and the driver of the rear-ending vehicle sustained neck and back injuries;
  2. In February of 2016, another self-driving Google Lexus SUV was involved in the 18th-known Google autonomous vehicle collision, and the Google vehicle was identified as being at fault;
  3. In May of 2016, a Tesla Model S semi-autonomous vehicle was involved in a fatal collision in Ohio involving a tractor-trailer after the self-driving car “ failed to recognize a white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway against the bright sky background;
  4. In March of 2018, an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona; and
  5. In March of 2018 shortly after the Uber autonomous vehicle death, a Tesla Model X was involved in a fatal collision in Mountain View, California, in which the occupant was killed after the car “collided with the concrete divider in the road.”

IIHS Research Says Self-Driving Cars Might Not Prevent Most Crashes

Even if the problems that have led self-driving cars to cause collisions are corrected, it is possible that these vehicles will not actually reduce the overall rate of most types of collisions. Indeed, research reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in June 2020 indicated that self-driving cars—even if perfected—would only reduce collision rates by about one-third.

The study intimates that autonomous vehicle technology may not be as beneficial as researchers once thought.

Seek Advice from a Colorado Springs Car Accident Lawyer

It is most likely the manufacturers of the autonomous car will be responsible for the crashes, but other factors such as human/owner programming and other operational errors will need to be examined.  If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a car crash involving a self-driving vehicle, you should seek advice from an experienced car accident lawyer in Colorado Springs. Do not hesitate to get in touch with an attorney at our firm. Contact McCormick & Murphy, P.C. for more information.

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