Distracted Driving and Driverless Cars

Distracted driving is a major cause of deaths on the road in the United States. Promises have been made that one solution to distracted driving is driverless vehicles. It is believed that the benefits and features of driverless cars will help overcome the safety issues associated with distracted driving. However, some safety experts have concerns and believe driverless cars may not be an effective answer.

Limitation of Driverless Vehicles

As demonstrated by the 2016 accident involving a Google self-driving car and the Tesla crash that resulted in the death of the driver, the features of driverless vehicles have their limitations. The Tesla crash occurred in Florida when a truck driver failed to yield the right of way, and Tesla’s safety system failed to distinguish between the white truck and the bright sky. The National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the crash and determined that Tesla’s Autopilot system contributed to the accident. The investigation led to the NTSB making safety recommendations and urging automakers not to go beyond Level 2 autonomy.

In addition, driverless cars appear to be limited in their ability to recognize ever-changing road conditions. A crash in Arizona resulted in the death of a jaywalking pedestrian. The Uber vehicle failed to recognize a woman as a pedestrian when she was not crossing at a crosswalk. There were at least two prior crashes involving Uber driverless vehicles and changing road conditions. In one incident, the vehicle struck a bent bicycle lane sign that was in its path. In another incident, an operator had to take over control when a fast-moving car came into the Uber vehicle’s lane.

Human Factors

Another factor in many of these accidents is the human driver’s overreliance on the autonomy of the driverless vehicle. Most driverless cars require a human to be present in the car who can override the system if the car does not respond appropriately to a dangerous situation. Relying heavily on a flawed system and not keeping eyes on the road brings us right back to the problem of distracted driving. According to a 2017 study, drivers using automated systems responded worse than those manually driving in reaction time, lane departure deviation, and maximum steering wheel angle to an induced lane departure event. This clearly demonstrates that distracted driving is not going to easily be solved by the use of driverless cars.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you should have an experienced car accident attorney on your side. Gregg Goldfarb has 20 years of experience helping car accident victims. Contact us online or call us at 305-374-7000 to schedule a free consultation.

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