Self-driving automobiles, also known as autonomous vehicles (AVs), are making their mark. Some analysts expect their growth to expand exponentially, claiming that AVs might enjoy a 60 percent U.S. market share by 2030. Proponents predict decreased motor vehicle accidents and lessened traffic jams with the increased use of self-driving vehicles. So, how safe are these vehicles?
Self-Driving Car Accidents
AVs are not foolproof and accidents can and will occur for a variety of reasons, including product defect, roadway factors, inclement weather, and other external factors. Thus, while self-driving vehicles are designed to take operator error out of the equation, what if the AV itself malfunctions and causes an accident? Or a driver in a conventional automobile negligently collides with the self-drivng vehicle? Or dangerous road conditions cause the AV to crash?
Safety in Numbers
Driver error is responsible for 94 percent of all motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Road rage and driver aggression greatly contribute to traffic incidents, as well. Nearly four-fifths of motorists surveyed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety admitted to experiencing these emotions at least once over the span of a year while driving. Factor in accidents caused by teenage drivers, distracted driving, sleep deprivation, and alcohol and drug impairment, and you have a strong case for eliminating human error from driving.
How Comfortable are U.S. Drivers with Self-Driving Cars?
It appears that Americans aren’t fully prepared to cede control to AV’s just yet. A 2016 AAA survey reveals that 75 percent of U.S. motorists are fearful of self-driving vehicles. However, widespread use of semi-autonomous features in automobiles will likely lead to more comfort with this technology. This tends to indicate that time and experience with self-driving cars may overcome current consumer apprehension.
While there remains a disconnect between consumer desire and their full trust in new technology, it’s clear that there is a need and an interest in more evolved safety features in American vehicles. Perhaps by 2030, self-driving cars will be the solutions to road safety, after all.
For now, AVs are several years from being commonplace. And currently, human error, negligence and willful misconduct contribute regularly to an alarming number of motor vehicle accidents. If you have been injured in a car, truck, motorcycle or pedestrian traffic accident, contact an experienced New Jersey Motor Vehicle Accident lawyer to learn about your rights.