Many drivers in Mississippi are looking forward to the development of autonomous vehicles. With driver error to blame for 90% of all accidents, the idea is that self-driving cars, by being better able to identify and react to hazards, will significantly reduce the number of crashes. Yet one study suggests that the results will not be quite so spectacular.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed over 5,000 police-reported crashes from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. These crashes all involved someone receiving emergency medical treatment and at least one car being towed away. Researchers then divided the driver-related factors into five categories: sensing and perceiving errors, predicting errors, planning and deciding errors, performance errors and incapacitation.
Finding that self-driving cars would only eliminate sensing and perceiving errors and incapacitation, researchers calculated that these cars would prevent only about one third of all error-related crashes. The percentage came to 34% since sensing and perceiving errors were to blame for 24% of the analyzed crashes and incapacitation for 10%.
By sensing and perceiving errors were meant things like distracted driving and driving with reduced visibility. Incapacitation referred to alcohol and drug impairment, medical problems and falling asleep behind the wheel. To avoid other crashes, self-driving cars will need to put safety first, not speed and convenience.
In the meantime, drivers continue to be responsible for their actions, and if negligence leads to motor vehicle collisions, they may be held responsible for the other party’s injuries. According to the pure comparative negligence rule that Mississippi follows, crash victims can be eligible for damages regardless of their degree of fault, but being partially at fault will naturally lower whatever damages they do recover. To learn more about the process of filing an injury claim, victims may consult a lawyer.