In the United States, the most dangerous time to be driving is in and around September, according to Forbes. In addition, self-driving vehicle sales are experiencing a dramatic spike in consumer preference. Since their inception, knowing how much car autonomy can contribute to road safety has been the subject of debate.
So, are autonomous vehicles actually safe?
Here’s how vehicle automation has impacted road safety so far
Present State of Car Autonomy
Human error is by far one of the largest contributing factors to road accidents. Research from Stanford University has concluded that at least 90% of all crashes are the result of some form of negligence or distraction. Given that, it seemed to many motorists and car tech developers that making cars more autonomous would fix that issue.
Right now, autonomous car operating systems’ main function is to detect pedestrians, signage, and other vehicles. It then processes this data on the fly to operate the car in real-time. While limited in terms of depth, the system has so far shown itself to be roadworthy, as exemplified by Tesla’s autopilot feature. Unfortunately, most pieces of wonder-tech throughout history, like airships and wireless electricity, are rarely fully viable in their first iterations.
How Car Autonomy Has Affected Road Accident Statistics
One of the main aims of developing autonomous car tech is to ultimately reduce the total number of car accidents per year. Its proponents aimed to achieve this by removing human input that is prone to error. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, however, self-driving cars can only reduce human error-related accidents by 33%.
Part of this is due to complacency on the part of the drivers. Particularly, those who wrongly assume that they no longer need to provide human input to driving once self-driving features are engaged. But that isn’t the case all the time.
The system itself is prone to error, as its collision detector can go haywire and cause it to suddenly stop at the most inconvenient time. This is why most car crashes involving autonomous cars are rear-endings. Even a minor rear-ending accident can cause spinal injuries. With the rise of self-driving tech, it would seem that a spinal cord injury attorney will be one of the things that will become a mainstay in motorists’ phonebooks.
Car Tech To Supplement Autonomous Driving Systems
Drivers cannot rely entirely on automation to get them from point to point. It is here that advanced driver-assist features, such as driver attentiveness sensors and 360-degree cameras, come in. These augment driver sensory input and make certain tasks while on the road easier. On their own, they take most of the inconvenience out of driving, When supplementing self-driving systems, they will add an extra layer of safety features.
The bottom line is that there can be no true full autonomy, at least at our level of tech today. Even with the convenience offered by modern tech, driver attentiveness remains a top priority on the road.