Self-Driving Cars – An Accident Free Future?

By Staff Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

Will Self-Driving Cars One Day Eliminate Serious Car Accidents?

Flat flat modern illustration of self-driving intelligent driverless car goes through the city with happy passenger relaxing into the car

The Washington Post just published a powerful year-end story that suggests a possible sea change in auto safety.

The 5 most important turning points for technology in 2015” paints this compelling picture: “[In 2015], with some Tesla drivers were actually whipping down the freeway with their hands off the wheel this year was an important milestone for driver automation. Google could make a million marketing videos for its own driverless cars, but none of them compare to a YouTube video of a real person testing things out in a real car, on a real road, for herself. And that’s exactly what Autopilot gave us.

Footage of Autopilot successfully slowing down to avoid a crash, along with other videos showing near-misses with the technology, gave the public its first taste of what self-driving cars could feel like. The videos gave us a visceral sense of the possibilities and the risks; for the first time, we could really imagine ourselves sitting in the driver’s seat and letting the computer take over.”

An exciting report! But will self-driving cars like Tesla live up to the hype? Will they actually dramatically reduce the number of car crashes and limit the injuries caused by accidents?

A new McKinsey study says yes. It reports that self-driving vehicles could reduce auto fatalities as much as 90 percent once they’re in widespread use. And while the concept still sounds futuristic to most, industry officials expect self-driving vehicles to debut early within the next decade, with mass adoption beginning in 15 years.

What Is a Self-Driving Car?

A self-driving vehicle has special technology that permits it to steer, accelerate and brake with minimal or no driver interaction. These vehicles fall into two categories: semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous. The latter variety can run without any driver input.

How Many Lives Could Self-Driving Cars Save?

Researchers believe driverless cars could reduce road fatalities by nearly 30,000 per year, which would add up to 300,000 over the course of a decade! The increased safety would also save billions in health care costs linked to accidents.

Hurdles May Delay Driverless Revolution

Although the dozens of officials interviewed in the McKinsey study prognosticate a rosy scenario, other experts caution that obstacles may delay the driverless revolution. Engineers still need to work out an array of kinks before the cars are ready for consumers. They must demonstrate reliable performance in bad weather and other dynamic driving conditions.

Cultural hurdles exist as well. People may be reluctant to trust these new and strange vehicles. Furthermore, the transition period involving both driverless and conventional cars might worsen safety rather than improve it, according to research conducted by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan.

Unfortunately, society will likely need the services of experienced car accident attorneys for some time. Fortunately, the seasoned and compassionate team at Gasper Law Group can help. Please call us at 866-204-6973 or 719-227-7779 to schedule a free consultation.