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Safety Concerns With Self-Driving Cars

By Alpert Schreyer on August 13, 2018

This past March a woman in Arizona died after being struck by a self-driving car operated by Uber. This was the first time a self-driving car had killed a pedestrian. The vehicle was traveling at 40 miles per hour at the time of the collision and did not appear to slow down when the pedestrian entered the roadway. There was a vehicle operator behind the wheel at the time of the crash. This incident sparked debate over the safety of self-driving cars.

Even before this accident, Americans had concerns about the safety of self-driving vehicles. Fully automated vehicles that drive us instead of us driving them are inching closer to becoming the norm. But the technology has not been fully developed, and there are serious concerns about whether this future mode of transportation is even safe.

Previous Incidents

The incident in Arizona was not the first collision involving a self-driving vehicle. In another incident in Arizona, a car turning left across three lanes of traffic was struck by a self-driving car operated by Uber. No one was seriously hurt, and the driver of the turning vehicle was cited for failing to yield the right of way. In Florida, the operator of a self-driving Tesla was killed when the car failed to stop when a truck turned in front of it. It was determined that the vehicle did not apply the brakes because it was unable to differentiate between the white truck and the bright sky. In November, a self-driving shuttle and delivery truck collided when the delivery trucked backed into the shuttle that did not move out of the way. In most cases, it was determined that driver error was the source of the accident.

What are the Concerns? 

Two main causes of accidents have been identified as safety concerns with self-driving cars. The first is that sensors on the vehicles are not detecting what’s happening around the vehicle. In the Tesla crash, the car was running on Tesla’s Autopilot system and failed to recognize that a white truck was turning in front of the car. It was determined that the system might have been confused because of the bright sky behind the truck.

The second cause of crashes may be that a self-driving car does not know how to react when it encounters a situation that the people writing the car’s software didn’t plan for. For instance, a truck not seeing what’s behind it and backing up or a pedestrian walking into the street where there is no crosswalk. Self-driving cars are programmed to obey traffic laws and follow the rules of the road. But they also need to be programmed on how to behave when pedestrians and other vehicles do something out of the ordinary.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney 

While accidents with self-driving cars are rare, accidents with driver-operated cars are not. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LP. Contact us online or call us at 1-844-MDCRASH to schedule your free consultation.

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Date published: 09/06/2018
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