Are Self-driving Cars Dangerous?

Car accidents | December 12, 2021

Technology is rapidly evolving, and self-driving cars are close to becoming a reality. Currently, there are no totally self-driving cars on the roadways, but there are many vehicles that have autonomous driving features. Here, our car accident lawyers want to discuss whether or not autonomous and self-driving cars are safe on the roadway. This is an issue that legislators and safety regulators will inevitably have to understand and deal with over the next decade.

Self-Driving and Autonomous Cars – Are They Dangerous?

As of right now, there are no fully self-driving cars on US roadways for regular driving purposes. However, self-driving vehicles are being extensively tested in various areas throughout the country. Additionally, autonomous cars, those that have various automated features, are already on the roadways.

As technology continues to increase, we can almost certainly expect that self-driving vehicles will be on the roadways at some point in the near future.

But are they safe?

Safety is the number one concern when it comes to our roadways. One of the leading causes of deaths and serious injuries across this country each year is vehicle accidents. However, the idea of self-driving cars is certainly appealing, particularly when it comes to cutting down on accidents caused by impaired driving, fatigued driving, and speeding.

There have been problems. In 2018, Uber and other companies began testing self-driving cars in Arizona. Unfortunately, one of those vehicles struck and killed a woman crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona. There was a driver in the driver’s seat at the time the incident occurred. This driver was supposed to take over control of the vehicle if there was any chance of an accident, but the driver failed to do so. Ultimately, it was discovered that this “safety driver” was distracted by her phone at the time the incident occurred. This was ultimately a driver failure issue, not a self-driving vehicle failure.

There have also been several issues with autonomous driving features causing problems on the roadways. For example, a Tesla Model 3 electric car was involved in a fatal collision in Southern California earlier in 2021. The vehicle’s autopilot system had been activated when it slammed into an overturned truck in the middle of the night. This is just one example amongst many where autonomous vehicles have crashed when their autopilot or other features were engaged.

Risks: Self-Driving and Autonomous Cars

As we move forward with self-driving vehicles, there are several possible risks that you should know about. You can be sure that car companies understand these risks and are taking steps to minimize vehicle accidents when these vehicles become a reality.

  • Hacking. Self-driving vehicles will rely on network connections to operate safely. These types of connections could open the vehicle up to being hacked by those who want to cause chaos. Additionally, hackers could get into the overall driver safety system that allows self-driving vehicles to communicate with one another, causing accidents or traffic jams.
  • Not all risks are eliminated. Self-driving vehicles may not eliminate all risks on the roadway. As we have seen with autonomous features in vehicles, there is still a chance for vehicle accidents to occur. A self-driving vehicle could suffer from both computer and physical defects. Additionally, operating in hazardous weather conditions could lead to many of the same problems that happen today. Heavy rain, fog, or snow could impair a self-driving vehicle’s sensors.
  • Minimized driver interaction. Self-driving vehicles will inevitably lead to drivers not paying as much attention to the roadway. In theory, though, this will not matter if self-driving technology is perfected. The whole idea is to free up a driver and allow the vehicle to operate on its own.