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Do Self-Driving Cars Do More Harm Than Good?

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  July 5, 2022   |  

Research Reveals Hazards Linked to Self-Driving and Driver Assist Technology

A few years ago, self-driving cars were a dream of the future. That future is now becoming reality, with Tesla leading the way in the self-driving revolution. Many other companies are starting to follow. According to The New York Times and WRAL, there have been nearly 400 car crashes involving a self-driving car or driving assist technology in a 10-month period.

NHTSA Study of Crashes Involving Self-Driving Technology

Self-driving and driver-assist technology raises questions of liability in personal injury cases.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that from July 2020 through early May 2021, there were 392 incidents involving self-driving cars and assisted driving technology. Six people died in those crashes while five were seriously injured. 273 of 392 of those crashes involved Tesla vehicles being driven in “full self-driving” mode or “autopilot” mode.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated vehicles from manufacturers including Tesla, Honda, Subaru, Ford, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, and Porsche, focused exclusively on vehicles that have either autopilot or self-driving technologies.

Tesla vehicles were involved in 70 percent of the reported accidents involving self-driving or driver assist technology. Honda vehicles were involved in 90 crashes while Subaru vehicles were involved in 10. Ford, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, and Porsche all reported five or fewer crashes involving self-driving or driver assist features.

Tesla Recall: More on the Horizon?

In related news, Tesla recently issued a recall of nearly 12,00 vehicles that were involved in “beta” testing autonomous driving technologies. Tesla explained that the technology might cause crashes due to unexpected activation of the cars’ emergency braking system.

Our Perspective

Self-driving and driver assist technologies are certainly exciting, but they raise serious questions when it comes to personal injury cases and liability. If the car is in “autopilot” mode or self-driving features are involved in a car accident, who is at fault? Is it the driver? Or is it the manufacturer of the system?

These are important questions that we as North Carolina car accident lawyers continue to grapple with. We anticipate that as self-driving and driver-assist technologies continue to develop, the law will evolve.

Self-driving cars and driver assist safety features may ultimately lower rates of auto accidents, but the research outlined above is alarming. At the very least, drivers should always keep their eye on the road and stay alert. And you should never assume that other drivers are paying attention. In almost four decades of handling personal injury cases in North Carolina, our car accident attorneys have handled many heartbreaking accidents involving distracted driving that could have been easily avoided.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident due to distracted driving, a North Carolina distracted driving accident attorney at Riddle & Brantley can help. Please call 1-800-525-7111 today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

There are no upfront costs, and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive compensation.

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