With 9 out of 10 auto accidents occurring because of driver error, it makes sense that many people in Ohio would look forward to an age where self-driving cars would eliminate that error. A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though, shows that such hopes are misplaced.
Researchers analyzed over 5,000 crashes from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, and noting what the driver-related factors were in these crashes, they created five categories of driver error. Planning and deciding errors, including speeding, contributed to 40% of the crashes. Sensing and perceiving errors, such as distracted driving, were behind 23%, and errors from incapacitation, such as alcohol intoxication, had a part in 10%.
The other two were predicting errors and errors in execution and performance. The former included bad judgments of traffic gaps or of other vehicles’ speed. Under the latter fell inadequate safety maneuvers and overcompensation.
Out of these five errors, the IIHS determined that self-driving cars, in their current state, could only prevent sensing and perceiving errors and errors due to incapacitation: in all, 33% of crashes. To prevent the other three, automakers would need to focus less on speed and convenience and more on safety. Only when they do this can self-driving cars begin to live up to their promises.
In the meantime, drivers must make sure all their actions are done with safety in mind. When they fail to exercise their legal duty to other road users and wind up causing motor vehicle accidents, they will be held liable for any injuries. Those who have incurred injury through little or no fault of their own can file a claim, but they may want a lawyer to assist since it might be hard to negotiate a settlement.