Self-driving cars are fast becoming a reality for drivers in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Nichols Hill and Guthrie, and some tech proponents are touting these vehicles as the solution to the problem of crashes caused by human error. An experienced rear-end accident lawyer knows many collisions happen because drivers are not paying attention, or are tailgating, and they come too close to the vehicle in front of them. A motorist can’t stop and the rear of the lead vehicle is hit. These common auto accidents could be prevented because self-driving cars have sensors and systems in place to make sure they do not get too close to a lead vehicle.
Rear-end crashes are among of the most common collision types on the road, and it would be great news if self-driving cars were able to put an end to car accidents. The key question is whether these vehicles are actually going to be effective at stopping crashes from happening once they are tested in a real-world setting.
Self-Driving Cars and Rear-End Crashes
BBC reported on crashes in self-driving vehicles on public roadways. There are currently 48 self-driving vehicles traveling on the roads throughout the state of California. Over the course of the past eight months, four out of the 48 vehicles have become involved in collisions. This means over eight percent of the limited number of self-driving cars that are being tested have become involved in crashes in less than one year, which at first glance seems to suggest self-driving vehicles have a poor success rate when it comes to crash prevention.
At closer inspection, however, the data tells a more complicated story. Of the self-driving vehicles that have been involved in accidents, three out of four of the cars belonged to Google and the fourth belonged to Delphi. Google says that the majority of the crashes that occurred were rear-end collisions. The crashes happened not because the self-driving car hit the vehicle in front, but instead because the self-driving vehicle was hit in the rear.
In fact, of the 11 accidents that have happened in Google self-driving cars since the company started its self-driving vehicle program, the accidents were all caused by other drivers, and rear-end accidents were the most common crash cause. Google points out a lead vehicle can do very little to avoid getting hit when a driver in a rear-vehicle is not paying attention.
However, CNN Money suggests that this may not be entirely true. Drivers who are in control and operating their vehicles may be able to help avoid rear-end crashes if they are looking into their mirrors and see a vehicle that is approaching too fast. Although it may not be the legal responsibility of the front driver to account for unsafe behaviors by a vehicle following their car, they can still avoid accidents – and injury – by paying attention to what is going on behind them.
The data on the self-driving car crashes suggests that human error continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to road safety. Even when self-driving vehicles are able to reduce the chances of a motorist running into a car in front, as long as humans remain a controlling factor, there will continue to be a risk of rear-end collisions.