A self-driving vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona recently, and it has caused a lot of questions to surface about the safety of driverless cars. For example, are autonomous vehicles safe for testing on the road? Should we wait before allowing self-driven automobiles to mix with regular traffic? And, most importantly, do these vehicles pose a threat to pedestrians?
In spite of these questions, experts on the topic of self-driving technology continue to support the notion that — even if self-driving cars aren’t perfectly safe yet — they will be infinitely safety than human-driven cars at some point in the near future.
The advantage of eliminating “human error” from driving
Astonishingly enough, an estimated 90 percent of vehicle accidents in the United States are the result of human error. If we could remove these errors from the equation of driving — i.e., if we could remove the human drivers — we’d stand to save the lives of 58,000 people in the United States every year. Such a staggering statistic is certainly great motivation to continue moving forward with efforts to improve self-driving technology.
Sadly, although the United States was making incredible safety advancements in terms of reducing the number of vehicle-related deaths, in recent years, car accident fatalities have been on the rise. Many blame the increase in deaths on the increase of vehicles on the road, the increase in smartphone use by drivers — even though it’s illegal — and continued intoxicated driving.
With self-driving technology, however, vehicles wouldn’t speed, have drunk drivers and they wouldn’t have distracted drivers. A computer could handle every aspect of getting from A to B in a much safer way than humans could.
But who is liable for a self-driving vehicle accident?
It’s unlikely that a self-driving car would completely eliminate the risk of car accident fatalities. Accidents would continue to happen in a world with self-driven cars, but without drivers, who would be liable to pay for the accident damages? The court system will no doubt have to wrestle with this issue before this question can be answered clearly. However, at-fault parties might be the vehicle manufacturers and self-driving technology creators. It could also be the vehicle owners if they fail to appropriately maintain their cars.