The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study of over 5,000 crashes in order to determine what types of errors self-driving cars would be able to prevent. Researchers divided the errors into five categories and found that only two would be positively affected by automated vehicles. In all, self-driving cars would only prevent about 33% of error-related crashes.
Those two categories turned out to be sensing and perceiving errors, such as errors due to distraction or impeded visibility, and errors from incapacitation, including alcohol or drug impairment and falling asleep at the wheel. The former contributed to 24% of the analyzed crashes and the latter to 10%.
To prevent the other three types of errors, which were errors in predicting, planning, and execution or performance, makers of self-driving cars will need to prioritize safety over speed and convenience. Such cars must not only follow traffic laws but also take into account road conditions and the possibility of, for example, a pedestrian darting out into the street.
Until that time comes, though, drivers remain responsible for others’ safety on the road. The breach of that duty of care, when it leads to an accident, can form the basis for a personal injury case. Victims, for their part, should know that they may be able to recover damages as long as their degree of fault is less than the defendant’s. Contributory negligence will lower the amount they recover. By hiring a lawyer, victims may learn how much they might seek out in a settlement.