Autonomous vehicle crashes and what you need to know

Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, P.L.L.C.
2 mins READ
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An autonomous vehicle is capable of sensing its surroundings and navigating without any human control. These self-driving cars may be paving the way for future transportation, but are they really safer than human drivers? Here is what you need to know.


Autonomous cars have a lower crash rate. According to a study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which was commissioned by Google, the national crash rate is 4.2 accidents per million miles and the crash rate for self-driving cars is 3.2 accidents per million miles.

Their innovative systems could save lives. According to research, there are elements of autonomous cars that could eventually decrease road deaths by a third. These include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and head-on collision-avoidance systems. However, these systems are not standard features in all cars.

Most car crashes are due to human error. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that human error was to blame for 94% of traffic accidents. Autonomous cars have the potential to eliminate some of this human error.

Self-driving cars may lead to more distracted driving. Recent autonomous car crashes reveal that distracted driving may be an increasing issue with self-driving cars.

  • In March, a self-driving Uber hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Police reports show that the driver was looking down for almost 1/3 of the 22 minutes leading to the crash and that she was watching Hulu on her phone at the moment of impact.
  • In a crash involving a self-driving Tesla, the police report shows that the driver was distracted by her phone, put the car in autopilot and had her hands off of the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash.

Auto Insurance may have to adapt. Because of the growing presence of autonomous vehicles, insurance companies are going to have to figure out the grey area that lies between driver and manufacturer liability when it comes to self-driving car crashes.

Injuries caused by an autonomous car can be just as serious as those caused by a human driver. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with an autonomous car, call the Brothers in Law, (757) 599-6050.

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