An experienced Fort Worth lawyer explains what you need to know to stay safe
Self-driving cars have become increasingly common. Car manufacturers continue to create innovations that allow people to travel in cars without driving. However, such vehicles are not completely safe. Car accidents involving autonomous vehicles sometimes occur, resulting in serious injuries or even fatalities.
So how dangerous are self-driving cars? How common are crashes involving these vehicles? And what legal options are available if you or a loved one is injured in an accident caused by a self-driving car? Below, you can find the answers to these questions and many more, courtesy of Fort Worth attorney Coby L. Wooten.
How common are self-driving car accidents?
A lot of car manufacturers only highlight the positive aspects of self-driving cars. These vehicles are sometimes involved in motor vehicle accidents, however. Recent accidents involving autonomous vehicles include:
- Two people recently died in an accident in the Houston suburb of Springs, Texas when the Tesla Model S they were traveling in crashed into a tree and caught fire, according to Forbes. Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said in an interview with reporters that investigators “are 100-percent certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact.”
- A self-driving Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona walking her bicycle across the street because the autonomous vehicle did not recognize the pedestrian, who was reportedly jaywalking. Specifically, NBC News reported that the fatal accident occurred because automated Uber vehicles do not have "the capability to classify an object as a pedestrian unless that object was near a crosswalk," according to one of the accident report documents released by the National Traffic Safety Board and obtained by NBC News.
Nationwide data about accidents involving self-driving vehicles remains unclear. Crash data shows that autonomous vehicles have been involved in over a dozen serious accidents, resulting in 6 fatalities. However, such figures do not tell the complete story. For instance, there were 28 rear-end accidents in California alone in 2018 involving autonomous vehicles.
Here’s another disturbing statistic: Self-driving cars have been involved in 9.1 accidents for every one million miles driven. In contrast, traditional vehicles have been involved in 4.1 accidents for every one million miles driven. That’s 2.2 times as many accidents involving self-driving cars.
What makes self-driving cars dangerous?
There are many reasons why accidents occur involving self-driving cars. Here are some of the most common.
Failure to executive evasive maneuvers
In the case of the pedestrian accident in Arizona, the self-driving vehicle was unable to predict that the pedestrian would cross the road and did not know how to respond when the person crossed the street in front of the vehicle.
Inability to properly judge distances
In some circumstances, autonomous vehicles do not appear to properly judge the distance between the vehicle and another car, pedestrian or bicyclist, according to tests conducted by Waymo cars. A Tesla Model S was involved in an accident when it struck a parked fire truck, as well.
Unrealistic driver expectations
Some people believe they do not have to do anything if they are traveling in a self-driving vehicle. This includes paying attention while seated in the driver’s seat and being prepared to take over at a moment’s notice. Instead, some drivers are not seated in the driver’s seat or not paying attention at the time of the accident.
Self-driving cars rely on numerous cameras positioned around the vehicle. Where the sun is located and the angle of the sun in the sky may be a factor in some self-driving car accidents. In the case of one accident involving a Tesla Model S, “the cameras struggled with the glare from the sun,” according to a news report in The Guardian.
What do you do if you're injured in a crash with a self-driving car?
Much is still being learned about why accidents occur involving self-driving cars. This includes the impact of adverse weather events (snowstorms, ice storms, etc.) on autonomous vehicles. That’s why it’s important for vehicle manufactures and the public at large to be fully aware of the possible risks associated with such vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a self-driving vehicle in Texas, you may be able to file a lawsuit. To learn more about your legal options, schedule an appointment with Coby L. Wooten, Attorney At Law in Fort Worth. We can review the details of your potential legal case, answer any questions you might have, and explain your legal options. Contact us and schedule your free case evaluation today.