Self-Driving Automobiles & Road Safety in Missouri

Self-driving vehicles were created for many reasons, including to improve traffic safety. The technology behind autonomous cars has not yet been perfected, however, and is subject to malfunctions. Negligence by human operators can also contribute to self-driving automobile accidents. Use these tips to keep yourself safe if you choose to purchase an automobile with autonomous technology in Missouri.

How Frequently Are Autonomous Vehicles Involved in Auto Accidents?

Despite the common misconception that self-driving automobiles are safer than vehicles operated by human drivers, recent statistics show the opposite. Statistics state that there are about 9.1 autonomous car accidents per million miles driven, while there are only 4.1 standard car accidents per million miles. However, the injuries suffered in autonomous vehicle accidents are typically less serious.

In the last several years that self-driving automobiles have been available to the public, there have been six fatalities connected to autonomous cars. The majority of these deaths have taken place in America. The first pedestrian death connected to a self-driving vehicle, for example, occurred in Tempe, Arizona, when an autonomous Uber failed to detect a pedestrian crossing the road at night. 

Risks Related to Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars come with many unique risks associated with the technology used. If a sensor malfunctions and fails to detect a hazard, for instance, it may not automatically apply the brakes in time to avoid a collision. The fact that they do not need input or control by human operators can put the vehicle at risk of issues that would be avoided in a traditional motor vehicle. Some of these issues include:

  • False sense of security
  • Too much trust in autonomous technology
  • Fire hazards from lithium-ion batteries
  • Faulty equipment
  • Software malfunctions
  • Technology breakdowns
  • Inability to adapt to real-life driving conditions
  • Cyberattacks
  • Lack of road rules to regulate self-driving cars

Some of the most common causes of self-driving car accidents are equipment malfunctions, human operator negligence and environmental factors. If an investigation finds that a problem with a self-driving car caused or contributed to the accident, the manufacturer or distributor of the autonomous vehicle could be held liable for related damages.

How to Prevent an Autonomous Vehicle Accident

If you purchase a self-driving automobile in Missouri, there are certain things that you can do to decrease your risk of getting into a car accident connected to the autonomous technology. First, learn exactly how your vehicle works. Carefully read the owner’s manual and operating instructions to fully understand your responsibilities as a human operator and the capabilities of your vehicle’s self-driving software. There are six different levels of autonomous technology, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Next, learn when you might need to intervene with the autonomous technology and take over using manual controls. Self-driving vehicles have systems in place that alert drivers to conditions that are too dangerous to use the autonomous technology. It is a driver’s responsibility to watch for these signs and regain control of the car when necessary. You may have to take control of the steering wheel, for example, on an uneven surface or unpaved road. Failing to pay attention to your car’s autonomous software or hardware alerts can increase the risk of an accident.

If you get into a car accident involving a self-driving automobile in Missouri, contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights. Your crash may need a thorough investigation to determine its cause, such as an issue with the autonomous software or negligence by the human operator. Once you have identified the cause of your accident, you can file an insurance claim in pursuit of financial compensation for your damages from the at-fault party, such as an automaker. A personal injury attorney can help you with the complicated claims process from start to finish.