Are Self-Driving Cars Safe? Google Takes Responsibility for Driverless Car Accident

Can driverless cars prevent accidents?Several weeks ago, we wrote a blog discussing how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now considers Google’s driverless car software and technology a “driver”. Under the new NHTSA guidelines, Google’s cars can now be tested on our roads without passengers. Several consumer watchdog groups questioned the decision, claiming more testing of Google’s technology is needed.

How Will We Handle A Driverless Car Accident?

As it turns out, the critics might have been correct to be apprehensive with NHTSA’s decision. Google’s car was recently responsible for causing a collision with a passenger bus, and the technology giant has taken responsibility. Although the driverless car accident was minor, it pokes holes in the argument that self-driving technology is ready to operate without passengers.

The crash took place in Mountain View, near where Google operates its headquarters. According to Google, the driverless Lexus RX 450h was attempting to get around sandbags and was travelling at less than 2 mph. A bus travelling at 15 mph was in the lane next to the Google car.

The driverless vehicle assumed the bus would slow down or stop in time to avoid a collision. Google’s driverless car continued driving into the center of a lane, colliding with the bus. Nobody was injured in the accident, but it does show how collisions with driverless vehicles can occur.

Can Driverless Cars Predict How Other People Drive?

Driverless cars might have difficulty accounting for how human drivers react to certain situations. Google’s software appeared to have difficulty accounting for how a person would react to avoid a collision. Now, this accident does not mean driverless cars are unsafe, but it does suggest this technology needs further testing. The consumer watchdogs who criticized NHTSA raised red flags, and it appears they were correct in doing so.

Galloway Jefcoat LLP is a Lafayette-based personal injury law firm with decades of experience helping the victims of negligent auto manufacturers.


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