Smith, Feddeler & Smith, P.A.

Would autonomous cars be safer?

Many people feel wary about the idea of autonomous or self-driving cars. They cannot shake the feeling that the computer could make a mistake and cause a deadly accident. Is a line of code really going to lead to the end of their life? Do they have to worry about programing errors sending a car speeding out of control, with no way to stop it?

How safe would these cars really be?

It is important to address safety concerns, and people should not overlook these issues or downplay that danger. However, it is all relative. What is clear from looking at the statistics is that the self-driving cars we have right now are vastly safer than human drivers.

A pedestrian accident

For instance, national headlines ran with a story of a woman in Arizona who got hit by a self-driving car when the emergency driver did not stop in time and the computer did not avoid the crash. The woman tragically died in the accident.

That is a serious issue and experts must focus on making computer systems that can recognize all roadway hazards, even at night and in places they are not expected. However, the statistics show that pedestrians die every 90 minutes in car accidents across the country. Three hours from now, two more people will be dead.

While those stories make the news, people often seem to overlook the danger. It is clear that human drivers pose a massive threat. Even if self-driving vehicles are imperfect, will they be safer? Will they save lives?

Human error

The National Safety Council also points out that about 40,000 people died from car accidents in 2017. They claim that over 90 percent of these fatal accidents happened due to human error.

Some errors were very small, like assuming a two-way stop was a four-way stop. Other errors were massive, like driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. However, the size of the mistake does not always matter at 60 miles per hour. One little error can take a life.

Most people assume they are competent and safe drivers. They feel safer if they have control over the 4,000-pound machine that takes them to work every morning. Again, though, the statistics show that many of these people are simply wrong. They are not safe drivers, they make avoidable errors and they cause deadly accidents.

Your options

This is not to argue for autonomous cars so much as it should show you the true level of risk that you face on the roads right now. This danger could come from self-driving vehicles or those driven by other people. When every trip is a risk, you need to know all of the legal rights you have to seek compensation after an accident.

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