The promise of what changes driverless cars could bring to our roads—eliminating the issue of human error—has many anticipating their widespread use. This might be because human error is estimated to contribute to 75 percent of all road crashes.
However, as long as we have humans involved in transportation—including in the development of these cars—we, unfortunately cannot escape human error, and the impact it has on accidents.
Human Error Challenges
One of the number one challenges to overcoming human error as it relates to auto accidents is the fact that we are driving too fast to properly communicate with each other on freeways. We rely on signals and other technological advances to overcome this hurdle and communicate with other drivers on the road.
When it comes to traveling at lower speeds—where we have to interact with each other by, for example, waving to pedestrians that it is safe to cross the road—is where automated vehicles may have more trouble. How is it possible for these cars to anticipate that a pedestrian is waiting to cross the road, or a cyclist is located right next to the car? We still have a long way to go—not only when it comes to these cars recognizing hand signals, but in people being able to anticipate the actions of the driverless cars themselves.
Moving Beyond Car Ownership?
Some have said that the only context in which driver-less cars will be safe involves individuals giving up their cars and transitioning to a taxi-only system. But getting everyone to give up their cars could prove to be an insurmountable challenge. Even if we achieved this “vision” at some point—and this included automated intersections where traffic lights are no longer needed—how would we protect cyclists and pedestrians who need to cross these intersections?
When it comes to automated cars, the failure to move beyond individual car ownership could end up causing more problems than it solves; with more overall cars on the road than we have now (for example, why pay for parking if you can send your automated car back home–and have it come back out to pick you up–thus resulting in more overall driving and use of the roads).
Automated Cars & Accidents
As of now, unfortunately, even with just a few on the road, automated cars have been involved in accidents where people have been injured or killed. Tesla may now be facing at least one lawsuit alleging that not only is there a potential design defect, but a potential a class action lawsuit as well addressing loss of value for car owners who purchased these automated vehicles.
For Help after an Accident
Regardless of the circumstances of an accident—whether it involves cars, pedestrians, bicyclists—automated vehicles or human error—litigation becomes a very important tool in helping accident victims get back on their feet. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, contact our personal injury and auto accident attorneys. We are here to help residents in and around East Providence, Rhode Island.