Self-driving cars made by Google, GM and other auto manufacturers are supposed to greatly reduce, or even eliminate, car crashes in North Carolina and across the United States. However, the first wave of real-world testing of the new vehicles shows they crash twice as often as human-driven vehicles. Why? The computerized cars drive like “grandma,” according to one Google engineer.
So far, Google’s self-driving cars have logged 2 million miles in California and gotten into 17 minor accidents. The problem is that the cars always follow the rules, including speed limits. They also anticipate the actions of pedestrians and come to sudden stops as a precaution. This has led to several human-driven cars bumping into computerized cars from behind. In one incident, a Google car stopped at a red light, turned on its blinker to make a right turn on red and then inched into the intersection. The human driver behind it also began to roll forward and rear-ended it at 4 mph when it unexpectedly crept along.
Self-driving cars have also had trouble learning how to smoothly merge onto highways, where drivers rarely follow the speed limit. In one case, a police officer pulled over a Google car traveling at 24 mph in a 35 mph zone for going so slowly it was creating a safety hazard. Engineers are trying to figure out how they can program self-driving cars to follow all laws but also blend safely with human drivers, who tend to be much less rigid when it comes to driving rules. Experts predict car accidents will temporarily rise when self-driving cars officially debut, but they will be mostly minor crashes and will reduce over time.
Motor vehicle accidents cause thousands of serious injuries each year, and the majority are caused by human error. A person who has been injured in a crash caused by the negligence of another motorist may want to have the assistance of a personal injury attorney in filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking compensation for medical expenses and other applicable damages.