Self-driving cars are about five times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than standard passenger vehicles, a study1 recently published by the University of Michigan has reported.
In fact, what these researchers specifically found was that:
- While the collision rate for self-driving vehicles is about 9.1 (per every million miles traveled), standard passenger vehicles’ collision rate is about 1.9.
- Self-driving vehicles are involved in rear-end collisions about 50 percent more often than standard passenger vehicles.
- Occupants of self-driving cars are about 4 times more likely to be injured (than occupants of standards passenger vehicles) when collisions happen.
Self-Driving Cars May Still Be Safer than Passenger Vehicles, Researchers Explain
All of the above findings would seem to indicate that self-driving vehicles are unsafe or possibly even riskier than standard passenger vehicles. However, as researchers have noted, the above findings need to be considered in light of the following facts:
- Self-driving cars have not been responsible for causing any of the accidents they have been involved in – In every accident involving an autonomous driving car, the collision was caused by the driver of another vehicle.
- When the occupants of self-driving cars are injured, these injuries are no more serious than the injuries sustained by those in other passenger vehicles involved in the crash.
- Self-driving vehicles have not been in any fatal crashes to date. In other words, these vehicles have a zero percent fatality rate.
- Data comparisons between self-driving cars and standard passenger vehicles may be inherently flawed, as standard passenger vehicles are driven about 3 trillion miles each year in the U.S. while self-driving vehicles have only accumulated about 1.2 million miles of driving time over their entire existence.
With all of these caveats, researchers ultimately concluded in their study that, “We currently cannot rule out, with a reasonable level of confidence, the possibility that the actual [crash] rate for self-driving vehicles is lower than [the crash rate] for conventional vehicles.”
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