Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit, has warned that driverless cars have a long way to go before being safe for use on roads and highways. The group is concerned over new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposals that could allow driverless car manufacturers legal exemptions not granted to other types of vehicles.
Driverless cars rely on cameras, computers and software to operate. Tech companies such as Google, Tesla and Apple are developing driverless cars. Major auto manufacturers are producing their own models, such as Volvo and Mercedes Benz. Despite assurances from these companies that driverless cars are safe, recently released data from Google suggests otherwise.
A report from Google shows that between September 2014 and November 2015, its driverless cars had 13 ‘near-misses’ where operators were compelled to take control of the steering wheel to avoid collisions. For 10 of the 13 near-misses, Google claimed its own technology was the culprit.
Let’s consider for a moment that regular automobiles still vastly outnumber driverless cars currently being tested. If driverless cars were released to millions of people next year, how many consumers would be affected by technology failures similar to the 10 reported by Google? Driverless car manufacturers seem braced for this possibility. Google, Volvo and Mercedes Benz have pledged to accept liability in the event their vehicles cause car accidents due to equipment failure.
Why Criticism of Driverless Cars is Warranted
Consumer Watchdog has created an interesting discussion, as many people believe driverless cars are completely safe. In truth, it could be years before that is the case. Some driverless car developers want to create automobiles without steering wheels or brakes. If Google’s recent report can tell us anything, it might be a while before driverless cars are safe to use.
Let’s be patient and continue to ensure these new technologies are thoroughly tested so consumers are not put in harm’s way.
Galloway Jefcoat LLP is a Lafayette personal injury law firm dedicated to helping improve the lives of clients.