The number of self-driving cars on the road will doubtless increase year upon year, changing the way we drive and the face of transport forever. One of their claimed advantages is that they will virtually put an end to road traffic collisions, but as the latest news from California shows, there’s no immediate prospect of accident free roads.
A Rising Number of Crashes Involving Self-Driving Cars
Many people are unaware of the number of self-driving cars already on America’s roads, but leading car manufacturers such as General Motors are currently carrying out extensive on-road testing of these vehicles, with a human driver also on board should an emergency arise.
Current legislation in the state of California makes it compulsory for an accident report to be filed for any kind of crash or incident involving a driverless vehicle, and 27 such reports were filed in 2017. The number of reports seems to be on the rise however, with six reports already filed in January and February.
Thankfully none of these incidents resulted in injury to a human, and in three of the accidents the car was actually under manual rather than automated control at the time.
Resentment Growing Against Driverless Cars
One of the most startling things about the recent news is that there have been two reported attacks on self-driving cars in San Francisco this year. January 2nd saw a General Motors Cruise driverless car stop at a green light to let pedestrians cross, when a man ran across the street and launched an attack against its bodywork, damaging its bumper and taillight.
It’s not known if the assailant was still recovering from the city’s New Year’s Eve Grand Gala. On January 28th the same model of self-driving car stopped behind a taxi, at which point the taxi driver climbed out and struck the passenger window.
Self-Driving Car Crashes and Accident Claims
As these incidents show, whilst self-driving cars are quick to think and react, we can’t rule out the possibility of accidents and crashes involving them. Whenever human driven cars are also on the road, the unpredictable nature of man meets robot could always end in a crunching of metal and worse, particularly as some drivers seem to have taken an instant dislike to automated vehicles.
This will change the nature of our roads, but it also raises questions as to who is to blame if a driverless car crashes. Will the passenger or owner of the car be responsible under law, or the manufacturer? It’s an intriguing question that is exercising the minds of legislators across the United States, but it will doubtless make the use of expert car accidents lawyers even more essential in the event of a crash or collision.
From April 2nd self-driving cars in California will be allowed on the road without any human driver inside and other states will soon follow their example, marking an important moment in automobile history.
This will bring changes for pedestrians, businesses, commuters, lawyers and more, but the move towards computer piloted vehicles is an unstoppable one. Just remember, if you get angry with a self-driving car don’t confront the car and start hammering on its bonnet; it won’t do you any good, and the last thing you want is to hear the car say ‘I’ll be back!’