One of the first questions that people have in the aftermath of a car accident is, “Who is to blame?” To answer this question, there may need to be a thorough investigation into cellphone records, witness statements, road conditions and other sources of information.
However, that could all be changing when self-driving cars start populating Atlanta roads. According to Google, the primary company behind the manufacture and use of autonomous vehicles, the need to investigate car accidents could be a rare occurrence thanks to the low rate of accidents involving self-driving cars.
These vehicles have been designed and tested for several years now and recent reports indicate that there have been zero cases of one of their vehicles being the cause of a crash.
This is not to say they have a spotless driving history. Google cars have been involved in 12 crashes in the six years they have been tested on roads. The notable distinction, however, is that in every accident, the cause of the crash was blamed on human error.
Humans are far from perfect, especially when we consider driving behaviors. People make risky decisions; they don’t pay attention; they drive while impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue. While human drivers are capable of driving safely, the fact is every person makes a mistake or bad choice while driving and this could lead to crashes.
But as Google states, when you take out the human element out of driving and instead rely strictly on data, calculations and automatic response based on algorithms, you get a much better driver. You don’t have a person reacting out of impulse, ignorance or emotion. You have a car operating solely on mathematical input and robotic responses.
This is certainly an exciting development that will continue to take shape, but it is important to keep in mind that it will likely be several years until we start seeing how and if these cars are impacting safety on actual roads and not just on testing routes. Until then, we need to rely on tried and trusted investigative efforts and tactics to identify the causes of accidents and hold the appropriate parties accountable.