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Are some self-driving cars safer than others?

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2019 | Auto Accidents

While self-driving cars are taking slow, steady steps toward prominence on California roadways, not everyone believes that widespread adoption of the technology is in the public’s best interest. According to Forbes, drivers in San Francisco have sometimes reacted violently to the presence of autonomous cars on their city streets, and even those who are able to curb their road rage still express some hesitation. A nationwide study indicates that a slim majority of Americans, only 52 percent, feel confident that safety advances in self-driving technology may one day lead them to consider an autonomous vehicle as a replacement for a conventional one. 

As of right now, self-driving vehicles are still in the testing stages, and California law requires companies currently testing driverless cars to file a report with the proper authorities whenever a test vehicle becomes involved in an accident, meaning any contact with people or property. A tech website has compiled and analyzed data from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and determined which models of autonomous cars have had the most accidents.

GM has been testing its autonomous Cruise model on the streets of San Francisco, and 52 of its test models have had accidents out of 61 self-driving car accidents altogether, which may partly account for the apparent animosity toward the new technology among drivers in that city. Those 52 vehicles account for 30 percent of GM’s fleet of self-driving test cars. Forty-one percent of Google’s self-driving Waymo test fleet in the Mountain View area have had accidents. Nine Waymo crashes, out of 32 total, occurred on the El Camino Real, a six-lane freeway bisecting the region.

It is important to note that the companies testing autonomous cars must always file a report in the event of a test vehicle having an accident, regardless of whether the vehicle was in self-driving mode or who was at fault. Therefore, vehicle models involved in the highest number of crashes may not necessarily be more dangerous, as other factors than self-driving capability may have been at play. The fact that most self-driving car accidents happen at low speeds may also be significant. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.