Some safety experts have long pointed to self-driving technology as a promising point on the horizon for traffic safety. The idea is that eliminating human error could drastically reduce the number of crashes. With software there to detect pedestrians and other vehicles, for example, human distraction and fatigue would no longer cause so many preventable collisions.
Ideally, autonomous software would result in very efficient commutes during which people can rest, socialize, groom themselves or work. However, a recent report has made it clear that the increased number of autonomous vehicles with autonomous driving systems contributes to increased road collisions.
There were almost 400 automation-related wrecks in under a year
A few years ago, there were only a few thousand vehicles with autonomous driving software on the roads, but now there are hundreds of thousands. When looking at the collisions between July 2022 and May 2023, many crashes involved vehicles with autonomous driving systems.
There were almost 400 collisions during that time involving self-driving software. 273 of those crashes specifically involved Tesla vehicles. There are hundreds of thousands of these vehicles on the road capable of driving themselves, but at least a few hundred of them ended up in crashes while in their autonomous mode.
This surprisingly high crash rate has prompted more discussion about developing safe autonomous software and what happens with financial liability in those crashes. Typically, any driver choosing to flip their vehicle over into autonomous driving mode will likely be responsible for any crash that results. However, eventually, that may change. In some cases, a claim against the manufacturer could be responsible if it is clear that a defect in the software directly caused a crash.
Motorists, for now, need to continue to make decisions on a case-by-case basis about what would be safest for them and their passengers. Tracking the safety implications of technological advances may help those who want to avoid collisions to the best of their ability.