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Self-Driving Cars: The End of ...

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Self-Driving Cars: The End of Car Accidents or the Start of Many More?

  • September 27, 2016

As more and more vehicle manufacturers roll out new models with self-driving technologies, the era of hands-free driving seems to be an inevitability. The first “fully autonomous” vehicles are on schedule to debut in 2019, and experts predict that there will be more than 10 million self-driving cars on the road by 2020.

The major vehicle manufacturers are, of course, touting the safety benefits of autonomous cars and trucks. These computer-controlled vehicles, they say, will be both more aware and better able to respond to emergencies than human drivers.

Current Safety Concerns with Self-Driving Technology

But, at this point, numerous concerns remain. Consider these six issues recently discussed in the Times Herald-Record:

  1. Bridges. Many of today’s self-driving technologies rely on the ability to distinguish features (such as vehicles and pedestrians) against the background of an empty streetscape. On bridges, this functionality appears to be limited.
  2. Inclement Weather. Similarly, many self-driving cars rely on the ability to track and follow road markings – like the white and yellow lane-dividing lines that we see on a daily basis. In a Hudson Valley snow storm, it is unclear whether self-driving cars will be able to keep themselves on the road.
  3. Inadequate Lane Markings. If the inability to see lane markings in the snow is a problem, then this means that inadequate lane markings on clear roads will create issues as well. In fact, Tesla CEO Elon Musk raised this specific issue in a public address reported on by the Washington Post.
  4. City Driving. Times Herald-Record reporter Danielle Muoio suggests that driverless cars will face issues during city driving as well. This is due to both (i) the increased number of obstacles on city streets as compared to highways, and (ii) limited GPS connectivity in heavily urbanized environments.
  5. Lack of Human Interaction. In some circumstances, human interaction can actually help avoid certain types of accidents. A simple waive or flash of the headlights at a four-way stop, for example, may be all that is needed to establish the right of way. But, when a driver approaches an intersection opposite a self-driving vehicle, the technologies that are designed to avoid accidents could be insufficient to clearly communicate the driverless vehicle’s intentions.
  6. High-Speed Decision Making. Finally, the Times Herald-Record article also notes that self-driving technologies may struggle to adapt to the human approach to merging into high-speed traffic. If driverless cars reactions differ from what drivers have come to expect, this could create an increased risk of accidents.

On top of these types of safety concerns, driverless technologies are poised to raise a host of issues when it comes to establishing liability in the event of a collision. As a result, victims of accidents involving self-driving vehicles will be well-served to hire experienced legal representation.

Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer at Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond, LLP

If you have been injured in a car accident in New York’s Hudson Valley region, the experienced attorneys at Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond, LLP can help you fight to recover maximum compensation for your losses. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, please call (866) 290-6929 or get in touch with us online today.

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