Self-Driving Vehicles More Accident Prone, Study Finds – But These Findings Should Be Considered with Caution, Say Experts

A study recently released from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute has reported that self-driving vehicles are about five times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than standard passenger vehicles.

Although a recent study has found that self-driving cars are more prone to be in accidents than standard vehicles, there’s more to the picture, a St Louis car accident attorney explains.

Although a recent study has found that self-driving cars are more prone to be in accidents than standard vehicles, there’s more to the picture, a St Louis car accident attorney explains.

In fact, researchers found that, while passenger vehicles had a crash rate of 1.9 (for every million miles driven), self-driving vehicles’ crash rate was 9.1. Additionally, researchers reportedly discovered that:

  • Occupants of self-driving vehicles are about four times more likely than those in passenger vehicles to be injured when crashes happen.
  • Self-driving vehicles are about 50 percent more likely than passenger vehicles to be rear-ended.

While all of these findings would seem to be bad news for Google and other companies that are developing self-driving vehicles, researchers did also find that:

  • Self-driving cars were not responsible for causing any of the accidents they have been involved in (as of November 2015).
  • When self-driving cars are involved in traffic accidents, the injuries sustained by the vehicle occupants tend to be far less serious than those usually sustained by the occupants of regular passenger vehicles.
  • Self-driving cars have a zero fatality rate to date, as they have never been involved in a fatal traffic accident in their more than six years of development.

Why the Findings Should Be Taken in Context, Experts Say

This study has certainly revealed some interesting details about self-driving cars versus standards passenger vehicles, but the findings should be taken with caution, researchers warn. That is because, as these experts point out, self-driving cars:

  • Do not have such an extensive history being operated – Unlike standard passenger vehicles that have been around for about a century and that are driven about 3 trillion millions each year on U.S. roads, self-driving cars have only racked up about 1.8 million miles of driving time on the roads. This can skew a direct data comparison.
  • Have not been tested in more challenging settings or driving conditions – So far, the majority of the driving tests for self-driving cars have been performed in the mild-weathered areas of Silicon Valley, California and Austin, Texas. It remains to be seen how these vehicles will fare in harsh rains, on icy roads, in snowstorms, etc.

Consequently, the study’s lead authors, Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, specifically noted that:

We currently cannot rule out, with a reasonable level of confidence, the possibility that the actual [accident] rate for self-driving vehicles is lower than for conventional vehicles.

What do you think about this study’s findings? Do you think self-driving cars are safe? Would you ride in or buy one? Share your opinions with us on Facebook & Google+.

Contact a St Charles & St Louis Car Accident Attorney at Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

If you have been hurt in a traffic accident, contact a seasoned St Charles & St Louis car accident attorney at Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC for more information about your best options for financial recovery.

Call our firm at (636) 946-6886 or toll free at (855)772-5291. You can also email us using the contact form on this page.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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