Do Driverless Cars Improve Traffic Safety?

October 8, 2015 | Category: Car Accidents

Even though 2013 statistics show roadway deaths at a historic low, 2013 still saw 32,719 U.S. fatalities in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration. About 3,000 of those fatalities occurred in California. Since California has become an official testing ground for self-driving car prototypes, its high accident rate might prove to be a challenge for cars designed to increase safety for everyone on the road.

Now that early test results are becoming available, it is a good time to look into into the safety potential for this new breed of vehicles.

Early Driverless Vehicle Test Results are Confusing

A May 25th report from CBS News, explains that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have only been tracking driverless car accidents since September of 2014. Since that time, the DMV reported that 4 out of 48 test cars were involved in relatively minor accidents.

Falling just short of a 10 percent accident rate, it initially appears that the new vehicles pose a safety risk. However, the DMV did not release accident reports — and the car manufacturers assert that the driverless cars were not at fault in any of the accidents.

If all accidents were caused by the drivers of other vehicles, certain questions naturally arise. For example, did the other drivers get too close to examine the unusual-looking test vehicles? Or, did the driverless vehicles maneuver in unexpected ways that caused other drivers to hit them?

Driverless Cars are Likely to Raise New Legal Accident Issues

Perhaps generations far into the future will see significantly reduced accident statistics when all vehicles on the road operate without drivers behind the wheel. For now, however, driverless cars will have to share the roads with conventionally-operated vehicles. Additionally, even if no one is behind the wheel, human intervention is involved in virtually every other aspect of getting the new cars on the road.

When it comes to liability in driverless cars accidents, auto accident attorneys will be looking at many issues from the time of the accident and before, such as the following:

  • Was the driverless car operating under its own system, or was a driver handling it manually?
  • Were tests performed on all camera, sensing and navigation systems to ensure that a system error did not occur?
  • Do any known programming or other issues exist for the type and model of vehicle involved in an accident?
  • Did road construction or other abnormal events cause the driverless car to misinterpret traffic conditions?

The answers to these and other questions can point to liability shared by car manufacturers, software suppliers and countless other individuals beyond the people involved in an accident. Police and legal advocates will need to develop new investigational methods to reveal all issues that might have led to an auto accident.

Even today, new car models carry a range of cameras and other assistive devices to make it easier to maneuver vehicles — particularly when backing up or parking. The attorneys at The Rudman Law Firm, APC maintain a network of investigative resources to stay on top of all issues that can affect liability in auto accident claims.

To find out how a skilled Los Angeles auto accident lawyer can help you protect your rights, call us toll free at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, or at our Los Angeles office (213) 375-3777, or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969, or use our convenient online contact form.

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