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Motor vehicle accidents may still happen with self-driving cars

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Drivers in Alabama are often confronted with the realities of dangers on the road. That includes distracted drivers, drowsy drivers, negligence, recklessness, speeding, drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and more. The conventional wisdom is that as vehicle technology advances and fewer variables are factors in road safety, the number of motor vehicle accidents will decrease. With that, fewer people will suffer injuries and fatalities after a collision. Theoretically, this makes sense. However, research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows something markedly different. This should be considered in the context of an auto accident after it has happened.

IIHS found that autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars) may only prevent one in three accidents that happen given the current circumstances. Despite statistics showing the nine in 10 accidents happen because of driver error, other issues are key in collisions. Self-driving vehicles cannot prevent them from sparking a crash. It is true that a self-driving vehicle will not be prone the above-listed issues such as DUI and distracted driving, but for full accident avoidance, a reprogramming of these systems would be required. That means safety must be prioritized above all else.

If an autonomous vehicle is driving like a person would, it only eliminates the human mistakes like falling asleep, checking a cellphone or getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs. It does not account for speeding, tailgating and other road risks. IIHS assessed more than 5,000 accidents in which there were emergency services called and a vehicle needed to be towed away. Many accidents are indeed avoidable. Others are not.

Drivers whose vision is impaired due to road conditions or who are distracted are reasons in just shy of a quarter of the collisions. An incapacitated driver was a factor in 10%. IIHS says that 34% of accidents are avoidable only if – and this is critical – all vehicles sharing the road with the autonomous vehicle are also autonomous. Currently, this is not an option. Programming a self-driving vehicle to function optimally while sharing the road with manually operated vehicles would require adjustments to account for predicting what other drivers will do and errors they might make.

People might wonder how this impacts them if they are in an accident since most vehicles are not self-driving yet. It is important to note that newer vehicles do have certain additions that take the driver’s actions out of the equation or reduce its potency in causing a crash. That includes automatic braking and lane assist technology. Drivers believing these advancements shield them from accidents may lead to complacency and place other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians in jeopardy.

After motor vehicle accidents, common problems an injured person will face include lost time at work, extended hospitalizations, the need for medical care over the long-term and problems returning to the same condition they were in before. Exorbitant medical expenses are frequent. If there is a fatality, the family left behind will be confronted with funeral costs, the lost companionship and financial worries. No matter how an accident happened, these fundamental considerations are likely to be in place. Having assistance with determining how to move forward is imperative. Contacting experienced professionals who understand the necessary steps after motor vehicle accidents is advisable.