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Category: Car Accidents

What Happens If A Driverless Car Crashes?

As driverless cars increase in popularity and share streets and highways with conventional vehicles, drivers need to know what happens if a driverless car crashes. In the first fatal accident involving a driverless car, a pedestrian was struck when the car’s sensors detected, but dismissed, her in its path. This false-positive reading was the direct cause of the accident.

In addition, while the anticipated safety features of driverless cars might lead to fewer accidents, the anticipated costs of repairs far exceed that of repairing or replacing a traditional vehicle. These factors are forcing insurance companies to reexamine coverage and to explore what actions lead to driverless collisions.

Understanding What Happens When AI Self-Driving Cars Crash

Per Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) research, drivers can play a role in all collisions, even those involving driverless car crashes. What happens if a driverless car wreck occurs, but the car fails to realize it was involved in an accident?

There are sensors and other methods that help AI vehicles detect when they have been in an accident. These cars might also be able to store data that can aid in understanding what led to the accident.

In the event a driverless car crashes, all parties inside the vehicle at the time of collision are considered passengers. This data can help determine whether human intervention or error, computer or software malfunctions, or other factors caused the crash. It can also lead to advancements and improvements that prevent future collisions.

Car Accident Reports Are Important in Self-Driving Car Accidents

In accidents involving conventional vehicles, all involved parties understand the importance of the subsequent car accident report. In addition to identifying all parties and vehicles, it helps law enforcement and representatives for both sides understand the sequence of events that led to the accident.

It will note:

  • Date, time, and location
  • Road and weather conditions
  • A summary of the accident’s narrative

In a driverless car crash, the car accident report filed with local authorities plays this same important role. In addition, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines, makers and drivers of self-driving cars must also report all collisions to their agency.

These additional reports will:

  • Enable NHTSA officials to retrieve critical software data
  • Identify future safety risks that warrant research and observation
  • Detect potentially harmful patterns of “behavior” in driverless car crashes
  • Detect potentially harmful systematic concerns in the vehicle’s operation

In conjunction with the local police report, this additional NHTSA report will paint a clearer picture of what happened.

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The Dangers of Malfunctioning Self-Driving Cars

The accident rate of self-driving cars is actually higher per mile than that of their conventional counterparts. As with the misinterpretation of data from its sensors in the first fatal accident involving a rideshare car, the technological nature of driverless vehicles is a concern in future collisions.

According to a 2018 CARAVAN poll, the majority (81%) of consumers are in favor of U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) imposing specific cybersecurity rules that protect driverless vehicles from the threat of being hacked.

Because they are computer-based, self-driving, autonomous, driverless cars are sensitive to hackers and to computer or software malfunctions. An unforeseen software glitch can lead to unpredictable operations or cause the vehicle to stop functioning. Either can lead to dangerous collisions on the road.

Researchers are also exploring secondary dangers of driverless vehicles such as being exposed to harmful levels of radiation that do not exist with conventional vehicle use.

Self-Driving Car Accident Statistics

As self-driving vehicles are being tested further and are anticipated to be a regular part of the transportation landscape in the future, consumers and manufacturers need to understand how they will affect travel on shared roads.

AI Multiple has compiled the following self-driving statistics:

  • The first fatal rideshare accident occurred in November 2018.
  • This accident was preceded by 37 minor accidents from this company.
  • A self-driving SUV crashed into a bus in February 2016.
  • This accident was preceded by 18 minor accidents from this maker.
  • Between 2016 and 2019, drivers were fatally injured in three AI accidents.

While AI vehicles are involved in accidents at a greater per-mile rate than traditional cars, the resulting injuries are often less serious than those associated with similar crashes with traditional cars.

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