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Self-Driving Vehicles May Lead to More Traffic Congestion, Causing More Accidents

Self-Driving Vehicles May Lead to More Traffic Congestion, Causing More AccidentsProponents of self-driving (autonomous) vehicles argue that these vehicles will be safer than cars with drivers because autonomous vehicles don’t have drivers who drive while distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated. They say drivers can work, play, or rest while their car is in motion.

Opponents argue that self-driving cars are still no match for the human mind’s ability to anticipate and respond to the full range of dangers on the road. In addition, there are concerns that autonomous vehicles will take away the jobs of truck drivers and other drivers.

Another significant concern recently reported by dot.LA, a publication focusing on new technology, is that a proliferation of autonomous vehicles will create severe traffic congestion as many individuals and companies use these cars every time a short-term need arises. The concern is that more traffic will mean more chances for everyone on the road – the occupants of the autonomous vehicles and other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycle riders – to be involved in an accident.

Why self-driving vehicles still aren’t ready to replace human drivers

While self-driving innovation has helped create numerous safety features, such as technology that keeps cars in their lane and alerts drivers they are too near other cars; the “promise” of autonomous vehicles has run into numerous obstacles. A perfect example is the electric vehicle company Tesla, which not only hasn’t delivered on its hype that self-driving cars are imminent, it recently announced a recall of 363,000 vehicles with its so-called “Full Self Driving” driver assist software because of safety risks. Even the name is faulty because even if the software worked, the vehicles would not be fully self-driving. Most current self-driving cars still require that a driver be ready to take over from the software at a moment’s notice.

The technology still has a long way to go despite the push by manufacturers to make autonomous vehicles as common as cars with human drivers. Part of the issue with the technology is that self-driving vehicles are “trained” through artificial intelligence to anticipate rational dangers.

The problem is that many drivers act irrationally even when they’re not drunk, distracted, or tired. Many sober, focused drivers still don’t understand who has the right of way at a four-way stops sign, ambulances and other emergency vehicles often drive aggressively, many pedestrians jaywalk instead of crossing at an intersection, and many bicyclists go through red lights. Autonomous vehicles need to anticipate and understand irrational driving as much as they do rational driving.

Could self-driving cars increase traffic accidents?

Dot.LA lists the following concerns about the rush to flood our highways with self-driving cars:

  • An MIT study (along with a university in Singapore) shows that ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft increase traffic congestion, make traffic jams longer, reduce the number of people taking public transit, and “haven’t really impacted car ownership.” The study concluded that “easy access to rideshares actually discourages commuters from walking, public transit, or cycling.”
  • Private car owners may use self-driving vehicles more instead of paying to park their cars at the office.
  • Parents may be more tempted to use a self-driving car to transport their school and after-school activities than to arrange for buses. This results in more vehicles on the road because the children aren’t sharing their journeys with their parents or other children.

Many people who might use public transportation, walk, rideshare in the old-fashioned meaning of the word (by having other people from other families or other workers in their vehicles), or just stay home will likely use self-driving vehicles instead.

More vehicles on the road mean more rear-end accidents, broadsides, intersection accidents, head-on collisions, and lots of close calls that could become collisions.

Today, some limited use of self-driving vehicles is taking place state by state and street by street. In addition to all the other concerns about self-driving vehicles, all jurisdictions need to anticipate the consequences of regular self-driving use and how to regulate these vehicles so that traffic flows freely and more accidents don’t happen.

At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our Atlanta car accident lawyers have the experience and resources to help personal injury victims and the families of loved ones who die in car accidents obtain the justice they deserve. We file negligence claims against human drivers. We’re also ready and skilled at filing product liability claims when defective software and technology, such as that used in self-driving vehicles cause harm. We demand full compensation for all your financial and personal losses. To speak with a respected Atlanta accident attorney, call us now or complete our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.

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