New Research Indicates Autonomous Vehicles Could Prevent Many Fatal Car Accidents


October 30, 2013

Our Georgia Auto Accident Lawyers have previously discussed the prospect of autonomous vehicles that are self-driven in this blog. A new study provides interesting data that suggests the potential limitations and problems this technology could promote may be justified by the benefit in saved lives and financial savings. The new study was conducted by the Eno Center for Transportation, which is a Washington think tank, and published in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) journal.

While the researchers concede that issues of cost and liability remain regarding the use of autonomous vehicles, they suggest that the federal government should increase funding for such vehicles because of the potential benefits. The research study found that 1,000 traffic fatalities per year could be prevented and $25 billion saved per year if ten percent of the vehicles on U.S. roadways were autonomous vehicles. The authors of the study also indicate that conversion of ninety percent of vehicles on U.S. roads to autonomous vehicles could reduce traffic deaths by 21,000 per year and an annual savings of $204 billion.

The authors of the study also point out that ninety percent of all motor vehicle collisions are the result of driver error, so eliminating unsafe and inattentive drivers from the road safety equation could yield enormous safety benefits. According to data in the Eno Center report, four in ten fatal collisions in the U.S. involve fatigue, alcohol intoxication, distracted driving, driver fatigue or drug impairment. These factors could be virtually eliminated if all vehicle on roadways throughout the U.S. were autonomous. Autonomous vehicles could also eliminate many other types of driving conduct that lead to accidents which include the following:

• Speeding
• Poor reaction time
• Road rage
• Aggressive driving
• Lack of driving experience
• Overcompensating for errors

Even when hazardous roads or vehicle defects contribute to collisions, human error is often a contributing factor to such car crashes. While vehicle malfunctions may still occur with the implementation of autonomous vehicle technology, the elimination of human error by drivers could reduce collisions.

Despite these safety benefits, autonomous vehicles pose issues in term of liability issues in motor vehicle collisions. Human drivers often must make emergency decisions between two less than optimal alternatives, such as swerving into an adjacent lane when this may not be completely safe or departing the roadway to avoid a head-on collision. Sometimes parties are not negligent if they have no time to make this decision even if there was a better alternative. Computer systems can use sensors and advanced technology which may allow these vehicles to be held to a higher standard. In other words, the law might evolve in such a way that an autonomous vehicle is held to a higher standard than a human would be under similar conditions. Liability rules also will be affected by the degree to which drivers are allowed and expected to adjust settings on autonomous vehicles or override the auto-pilot features.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work For You

While someday the roads may be dominated by vehicles that do not need drivers, human error continues to be the leading cause of traffic-related injuries and fatalities. If you or a family member is injured by a careless or inattentive driver, our Atlanta car accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been helping injury victims and their families for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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