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Study Indicates Self-Driving Cars May be Involved in Higher Rate of Accidents

A recent study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute concluded self-driving test cars are involved in crashes at five times the rate of conventional cars.

In almost every incidence, the accidents involve human operated cars crashing into automated ones. Automated cars are often traveling at low speeds when these accidents occur. There has yet to be any reported instance of a self-driving vehicle going “haywire,” and a human is always traveling in the car just in case something goes wrong.

While the data is not disputed, the conclusion one should draw from this study is the subject of ongoing debate. On one hand, the study found that self-driving car accidents occurred at five times the rate of conventional car accidents, with four times the injury rate. However, the study focused on a tiny pool of autonomous vehicles; only about 5 of them in California, as opposed to the 269 million conventional cars on the road as of 2013. Further, all of the self-driving vehicles in the study are prototypes designed for testing and development, not real-world use. There is yet to be a publicized account of a self-driving car determined to be at fault in an accident. Lastly, the researchers admit that, based on the limited data available, they cannot rule out definitively the possibility that the actual rates for accidents involving self-driving car are lower than those involving conventional vehicles.

Regardless, this study poses interesting questions about the safety of automated cars and their relationship with those operated by humans. While automation seems like an inevitability at this point, the federal government, manufacturers, and consumers must all work together to ensure the safety of this exciting new technology.

The Boston car accidents attorneys at Swartz & Lynch have decades of experience in litigating car accidents, defective cars, and product liability cases. If you have been injured by a defective product or as a result of the negligence of another, do not hesitate to contact one of the experienced attorneys at Swartz & Lynch LLP. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

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