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Posted in: Auto Accident | Personal Injury | Safety

Will Automated Vehicles Increase Your Chances of Being in an Auto Accident?

Jun 15, 2022

Wondering when you'll be behind the wheel of a self-driving car?

Self-driving cars once seemed like the stuff of science fiction novels and movies. However, autonomous vehicle technology is advancing by the day. While this progress is exciting, it also brings to light new questions about everything from ethics to safety.

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Here’s a closer look at the risks currently posed with self-driving cars, and other things you should know about autonomous vehicles.

Are Self-Driving Cars Available?

Self-driving technology has existed for several years, but is it coming soon to a street near you? Probably not.

According to the experts at Edmunds, there’s still a long way to go before our streets are taken over by self-driving cars. However, technology is rapidly advancing, as is our understanding of what the near- and distant- future with self-driving cars might look like.

For starters, some self-driving cars are currently on the roads, operating in controlled areas, at low speeds, and on flat, dry streets. Obviously, driving in a small, low-traffic area is very different from hitting the roads of Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Risks Associated With Autonomous Vehicles

Features like today’s crash-avoidance systems lay the groundwork for a future in which fully autonomous cars could become part of everyday life. However, self-driving cars also come with inherent dangers of which many individuals are unaware, including the following:

  • False sense of security. The mention of “self-driving cars” brings to mind thoughts of watching movies, catching up on work and performing other tasks while the car operates in full auto-pilot. This simply isn’t the reality of self-driving cars. Drivers should always be alert and ready to take control at any minute.
  • Increased risk of fire. Self-driving cars use highly combustible lithium-ion prototype cell technology. When these cars are involved in a collision, there’s a higher risk of fire according to a 2020 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report. This is exactly what happened in a 2021 driverless car crash in two people were killed.
  • Technology errors. New technology is far from foolproof. In fact, according to one AAA study, cars with active driving assistance systems experienced frequent and potentially dangerous malfunctions, such as the unexpected disengagement of steering or brake systems.
  • Cyber attacks. In 2015, hackers remotely took control of a Jeep traveling at 70 mph on a downtown St. Louis highway. While this was part of a test scenario, it underscores the possibility of compromised systems associated with self-driving cars.
  • Real-Life Factors. Computers can do a lot of things, but they can’t completely think like humans. Driving is complicated, and some split-second decisions under complex conditions may be better handled by humans than by machines.

Finally, there’s the question of whether autonomous vehicles will increase your chances of being in an accident and resulting in bodily injury. Data from the National Law Review indicates that self-driving cars are involved in more accidents than human-driven ones.

The takeaway is clear: While there’s no denying that the prospect of self-driving cars is an intriguing one, it’s also one that is not going to involve a fast or easy rollout. 

The Legal Implications of Self-Driving Cars

As autonomous technology continues to improve, self-driving vehicles and partially self-driving auto technology may eventually lead to a reduction in auto accidents, and injuries. That time is not yet here.

However, with its advanced technologies like sensors and cameras and ability to capture important crash data, self-driving cars can help make determining liability much easier.

It’s also important to note that we are in uncharted territory not only with self driving vehicles but also with safety features of all automobiles. The rate of technological change happens quickly, and while many features in today’s vehicles are in fact there to keep us safe, they are not always perfect.

If you find yourself involved in an accident that is due to a malfunctioning safety feature — either as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or other entity — Dunnion Law has an understanding of personal injury and product liability laws in California. An experienced attorney can make all the difference in determining fault and personal injury compensation. 


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