Since September, 4 out of California’s 50 self-driving cars have been involved in traffic accidents – however, two of the accidents occurred while the person behind the wheel was driving. All of the accidents were minor and occurred at speeds of less than 10 miles per hour. Accidents involving self-driving cars are required by law to be reported to the California DMV, which could not release details about the accidents, such as who was at fault, due to confidentiality issues. However, sources within Google and Delphi, the companies rolling out this new technology, reported that the self-driving cars were not at fault in any of the accidents. Delphi went a step further and described the accident involving their car, stating that the self-driving car was stopped while waiting to make a left hand turn when it was broadsided by another vehicle. Once again though, this car was not in self-driving mode.
Safety statistics involving self-driving cars are extremely important as they can make or break public and political perceptions of the technology. As such, all incidents involving self-driving cars are heavily scrutinized, as evidenced by this report: it’s stated numerous times that 4 self-driving vehicles were involved in traffic accidents, even though 2 of them were being driven by regular people – in essence, those 2 were traffic accidents just like any other.
Are these traffic accidents a sign of things to come with self-driving cars? And who should get a traffic ticket if / when it’s determined that a self-driving car was at fault in an accident?