Are self-driving cars really as safe as tech experts would like to argue? Based on another recent crash involving Google’s self-driving car, it seems that these vehicles aren’t as reliable as vehicle manufacturers suggest.
According to Time, Google’s self-driving cars have been involved in more than a dozen car accidents since the company began creating the vehicles and putting them on the road in 2009.
The key detail that Google argues, however, is that none of the accidents have been Google’s fault. In all of the cases, Google argues that human errors of the other drivers on the road were to blame for the accidents.
In certain types of car accident situations, this isn’t surprising. When commercial trucks are involved in an accident, for example, human error typically plays a role in the crash 90% of the time.
Chris Urmson, the head of Google’s self-driving car project, recently wrote about the latest accident on the website Medium. Unlike the previous accidents, this accident involved injuries.
Reports from Business Insider and CNN state that a Google vehicle was rear-ended at an intersection near Mountain View, California, where the company headquarters building is located. The traffic light was green, Urmson said, but due to heavy congestion, the Google car and the two cars in front of it would not be able to pass through the intersection without causing a gridlock for the cars driving perpendicularly.
The driver of the fourth car — the car behind Google’s car — reportedly didn’t see the traffic congestion ahead, and he drove into the Google car at 17 mph without braking.
Although everyone involved in the accident was fine, save for some “whiplash,” the question still remains — how safe are self-driving cars? Even if the self-driving car itself isn’t to blame, and even if the accident could have happened with any other human-driven car, it seems that the safety statistics car manufacturers promote might not be as accurate as they seem.