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Would self-driving cars really decrease the chance of accidents?

Although a few cities in the United States are testing self-driving cars, these cars will not be on the public market in the near future. That considered, many manufacturers, like Tesla, have added autonomous features to their cars. Such features have added both excitement and doubts to the prospect of completely self-driving vehicles. 

One of the main points of debate about self-driving cars regards how they could significantly reduce the chance of an accident, and therefore traffic injuries and fatalities as well. However, the safety of self-driving technology has come under fire once again with the death of another Tesla driver just last month.

The deaths of four drivers casting doubt on self-driving cars

Tesla's Autopilot system is not exactly equivalent to a self-driving car; however, it does use cameras and cruise control technology to essentially make the car drive and even change lanes on its own. Although the system may function, many reports state that Autopilot does not perform nearly as well as any human driver.

That is because the technology—as well as cars themselves—can malfunction. Such malfunctions have left Tesla facing scrutiny after several accidents involving Autopilot failures, with at least four resulting in fatalities.

However, human error is certainly a leading cause of auto accidents

Stories like the Tesla accidents make many people doubt if self-driving cars can truly reduce the rate of accidents. 

But, there is no doubt that reckless drivers cause the most accidents. One of our recent post discussed how Maryland has the most at-fault drivers in the nation. And, a Forbes article reports various alarming accident statistics, including:

  • There are more than six million car accidents each year in the United States
  • Nearly 19,000 drivers are killed in those accidents
  • More than 70% of those accidents resulted from distracted driving, drunk driving or speeding

The article does admit that with how often negligent drivers contribute to accidents, self-driving cars could indeed have a significant—and perhaps positive—impact on these numbers. However, especially with the recent Tesla accidents, we are still far from feeling that impact.

It is too soon to tell how safe self-driving cars are

Since self-driving technology is not available to the public, and many companies are still in the early testing phases, it is too soon to tell if self-driving cars could actually reduce injuries on the road. Even when they are made available to the public, there is no telling how many drivers will purchase self-driving vehicles.

This seems to be an issue for the future. However, one thing will not change: regardless of how an accident happens, if you were not at fault, the law will still protect victims of negligent driving and entitle injured persons to compensation. 

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Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg, P.A. - Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers

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