New Jersey residents who are looking forward to an age of self-driving cars may want to temper their hopes for now. A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that self-driving cars are far from being able to prevent all or even most crashes involving driver error. It should be noted that driver error is behind some 90% of crashes.


The IIHS looked at over 5,000 crashes from NHTSA’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, and after identifying all the driver errors that contributed to these crashes, it created five categories of errors. Of these, only two could be eliminated by self-driving vehicles: sensing and perceiving errors, such as distraction-related errors, and errors from incapacitation, including drug and alcohol impairment.

The first type contributed to 23% of the analyzed crashes and the second to 10%. Therefore, self-driving cars can currently address about one third of error-related crashes. Errors in prediction, such as misjudgments of vehicle speeds; planning/deciding errors, including tailgating and speeding on wet roads; and execution/performance errors, such as overcompensation, are left untouched.

Moreover, researchers emphasize that some accidents are due to blown tires, broken axles and other examples of vehicle failure, which are not always preventable. Automakers will need to prioritize safety over speed and rider preference if they intend to eliminate all error.

Victims of an auto accident may pursue a personal injury case even if the other car was an autonomous vehicle. After all, a claim may be filed against the manufacturers of a defective vehicle or defective part. To see whether they can do this and how much they might be eligible for, victims could consider seeing a lawyer for an assessment. The lawyer may even take on every step for them, including the negotiations for a settlement.

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