The Road Hazards Autonomous Automobiles and Self Driving Car Accidents

Manufacturers of self-driving cars have been arguing for years that in time they will save lives by eliminating driver error from road safety. However, the actual safety of autonomous cars is yet to be determined, and companies could be putting motorists at risk with allegedly faulty, unproven self-driving cars on the road.

Thus far, accident reports show human drivers and automated vehicles are about even in presenting motorists with safety risks.

At the moment, there is not a wealth of data to determine whether or not automation and self-driving cars are actually better at keeping occupants safe. All crash rates are determined by knowing how many non-collisions occur per mile driven.

Assessing crash rates may be extremely difficult to pinpoint. Self-driving cars have logged about 1.2 million miles in total, while normal cars are driven trillions of miles a year. To determine automated vehicle safety, researchers will need to establish a non-collision rate for all driverless vehicles on the road.

Self-driving software does not get tired, intoxicated or experience road rage, but can these cars detect unpredictable and uncertain human driver behavior? Autonomous cars are driving in the moment and do not have the capability to predict events happening further down the road. Also, almost all safety data on self-driving cars is derived in the dry climate and good driving conditions in California and Arizona.

Automated cars are no doubt improving in their ability to operate safer, though perhaps the time has not come for manufacturers to market them as a safe option. Following accidents and injuries involving self-driving cars, victims may be able to file suit against responsible parties.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Cincinnati, Ohio product liability attorney, well-versed in the economic impact self driving car accidents have on a victim’s life and family. 

Self Driving Car Accidents

Because nobody can ask what self-driving software what is thinking or explain why it will protect car occupants, people are naturally hesitant to put their lives at risk without some human accountability involved.

Tech companies and car companies are doing their best to convince the public that autonomous cars are the safest option for the future, though of course they have a motive of making money from the venture.

Lawmakers are wrestling with how to control this technology. As human-controlled vehicles will remain on the roads for decades to come, is it safe for self-driving vehicles and human drivers to merge safely on the road?

U.S. senators are reviewing the activity of Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Google other companies developing self-driving cars. There are concerns about autonomous vehicles and the potential for companies to use forced arbitration clauses in contracts with drivers or passengers to limit the accident liability of carmakers and ride-sharing operations. Recent events like the GM lawsuit and Uber death have highlighted legal issues surrounding autonomous cars.

Some senators and consumer advocates say forced arbitration would prohibit an injured driver or passenger from joining a class-action lawsuit, depriving Americans of legal recourse, and shifting the balance of power in the favor of big business instead of the safety of consumers.

A letter from senators reads: “The innovation driving this technology is exciting, but accountability is critical to ensuring that innovation continues to promote safety first.”

Automakers and self-driving car companies have been put on the spot to answer specific questions whether they currently use or plan to use forced arbitration provisions, and limit the legal options for American motorists.

Even though self-driving cars may not be directly at fault, test cars are involved in crashes at a higher rate of conventional cars. A study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that the rate is about twice as high.

The study called “A Preliminary Analysis of Real-World Crashes Involving Self-Driving Vehicles” concluded that even though self-driving cars vehicles were not at fault in many crashes, it appears they are getting in a fair amount of accidents.

Autonomous Vehicle Accidents

A motorcyclist in California sued GM stating that a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt, operating in autonomous mode with a backup driver behind the wheel, veered into his lane, striking him and knocking him to the ground in heavy traffic.

Of about 40 crashes involving self-driving vehicles reported to California regulators since January 2017, 33 allegedly involved GM-operated vehicles. After the motorcyclist filed one of several pending autonomous car lawsuits, a GM spokesperson released the following statement: “Safety is our primary focus when it comes to developing and testing our self-driving technology.”

General Motors has been testing autonomous vehicles in San Francisco since August 2017, allowing employees to employ the cars with a backup driver behind the wheel. The vehicles were allegedly involved in six collisions in September 2017. Testing vehicles are operated by GM and liable for any accidents and injuries.

As more self-driving cars take to the streets, lawsuits are inevitable. Law experts expect self-driving tech companies to settle autonomous car lawsuits quickly if they believe their technology is at fault to keep public images clean for a profitable future.

Self-driving cars are outfitted with a system of cameras, radar and sensors that allow them to detect their surroundings: traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists and other obstacles. Testing of autonomous technology has shown driverless cars to be operating safely, though it’s still a work in progress.

The trend in self driving car accident incidents is very concerning for safety agencies. With autonomous systems like driverless cars, pilotless airplanes, and driverless trucks and trains on the horizon, accidents will continue to occur and lawsuits are likely.

Along with GM, Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber have been targeted in personal injury cases, and lawyers are reviewing a case involving car defects from Ford’s autonomous vehicle firm Argo which recently injured two people.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Cincinnati product liability lawyer and self driving car accident attorney, well-versed in the economic impact Ohio road injuries and deaths have on a victim’s life and family. 

self driving accident lawyer

Self Driving Car Accident Lawsuits

Uber and other transport-based companies like Waymo and Lyft started testing driverless cars a few years ago. Some state agencies promised to limit oversight as much as possible and companies began testing robotic vehicles on live roads.

To some lawyers and safety agencies following the development, it came as no surprise when an autonomous car operated by Uber, which included an emergency backup driver behind the wheel, hit and killed a woman on an Arizona street.

Arizona police are working with Uber, the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the investigation.

It was perhaps the first pedestrian death associated with a self driving car accident, though experts have voiced their concerns with more accidents that may follow. The accident was a brutal reminder that self-driving auto technology is still experimental and must be regulated.

Despite the death, and other reported accidents, Uber, Lyft and other companies say autonomous cars will be safer than regular cars as they take distracted human driving out of the road safety equation.

Meanwhile there is a strong pushback from concerned regulators, including Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who said, “This tragic incident makes clear that autonomous vehicle technology has a long way to go before it is truly safe for the passengers, pedestrians, and drivers who share America’s roads.”

Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been testing cars without a human in the driver’s seat. Researchers working with autonomous car technology have struggled with how to program the systems to adjust for erratic human driving behavior.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending investigators to examine “the vehicle’s interaction with the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists.” In 2016, over 37,000 people died in traffic-related accidents in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2016, a man driving his Tesla on Autopilot, a self-driving feature, died on a state highway in Florida when his car crashed into a semi truck.

Following a self driving car accidents, victims should contact an experienced lawyer to investigate. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding self driving car accidents and lawsuits.