The Department of Motor Vehicles in the state of California has released nine new reports about autonomous vehicles and the accidents that they are involved in. The reports are noteworthy because they provide the first set of data that people can really use in judging the safety and overall effectiveness of autonomous vehicles — even though the sample size is admittedly and understandably small.
It doesn’t appear that any of the wrecks in these nine reports were the fault of the autonomous vehicles, although that fact is pointed out by Google, which has an obvious interest in making self-driving cars “a thing.”
Still, this is an important topic, and it doesn’t matter which DMV in what state is compiling this data. Self-driving cars will likely become an issue in all states in the future.
As such, we need to know the weaknesses and flaws in the autonomous vehicles. These vehicles, without a human driver, may do things better than a car operated by a human driver. But they can’t be flawless. Technical glitches are going to happen, no matter how well made these vehicles may be. What happens when those glitches occur? How will car accidents that involve self-driving vehicles be handled?
This is a pressing question that may not necessarily have answers in the short term. Laws are going to have to change, and the idea of liability in autonomous vehicle accidents will need to be considered. Self-driving cars may be promising, but there are many issues that they bring to the road.
Source: Government Technology, “California DMV Creates First Public Data Set on Driverless Car Crashes,” Ben Miller, Oct. 12, 2015