How Likely Are Self-driving Cars to Be Involved in Accidents?

The next couple of decades could see some pretty big changes out on the roads here in New York and throughout the rest of the country. For example, we could eventually start to see self-driving cars making up a substantial portion of the traffic.

When any big change happens out on the roads, it is important to think of safety implications. One of the hopes with self-driving cars is that by reducing opportunities for human error to arise in relation to driving, the vehicles could help the roads be a safer place and help reduce traffic accidents. Given this, the results of a recent study raise some questions.

The study compared the accident rates of self-driving cars that were tested out on the roads and conventional cars. Some might find the results surprising. The study found that the accident rate for self-driving cars was much higher than the rate for conventional cars. The accident rate the study found for the self-driving cars was two to five times higher than the conventional car accident rate, depending on how the conventional car accident rate was adjusted.

Now, there are some things it is important to note when considering the results of the study. One is that the sample size when it came to the self-driving cars was very small. This could heavily impact how accurate of representation the self-driving car accident rate found in a study the actually is.

Also, reportedly, in all of the self-driving car accidents, the self-driving car was not at fault in the crash.

Thus, there are some significant limitations regarding what assumptions can be drawn from this study regarding the accident likelihood of self-driving cars. However, the study does still point to the possibility that the safety implications of self-driving cars might be more nuanced and complex than they would appear at first glance.

What traffic safety benefits do you think self-driving cars could bring to the roads? What safety challenges do you think could come up in connection to these cars? Do you think any particular safety issues would arise in connection to having both self-driving cars and conventional cars out on the roads at the same time? If so, what do you think would be the best ways for trying to prevent such issues from leading to accidents?

Andrew Levine
Andrew J. Levine is a partner at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, in New York, NY. A graduate of Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. For 15 years he has been widely trusted and respected as a formidable attorney but acknowledged as a reasonable and ethical collaborator who impresses clients, judges and jurors alike. Andrew has been featured in New York Magazine as one of New York’s “Top Personal Injury Litigators” and recognized by Super Lawyers as a “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney in New York.”
View Attorney Profile