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Self Driving Cars. Is safer safe enough?

In a recent study published by the Rand Corporation, they concluded that getting self driving cars on the road that have a safety improvement factor of even 10 percent above human driving safety performance can save upwards of hundreds of thousands of lives. A main concern about deploying self driving vehicles has been the need to test them to reach levels of 75 to 90 percent safety performance rates. Authors Nidhi Kalra and David G. Groves wrote an article referring to the Rand study that concluded, "In the short term, more lives are cumulatively saved under a more permissive policy (Improve10) than stricter policies requiring greater safety advancements (Improve75 or Improve90) in nearly all conditions, and those savings can be significant - hundreds of thousands of lives."
This is good news for Waymo, a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet who have begun the first public tests of self-driving cars without backup drivers in Phoenix Arizona. Initially all test passengers will be Waymo employees but eventually Waymo will open its doors to Arizona residents. The model will follow a ride hailing service rather than producing vehicles for private ownership and use.
One of the largest obstacles with determining the safety of self driving cars is the fact that currently there is no standardized reliable testing system in place. A recent NPR article referring to this issue states, "There isn't a set system in place on just how safety can be measured without putting cars on the street. How can we know when an autonomous car actually reaches the point of being safer than a human, if ever?"
Current legislation is being explored to try to regulate the production and use of self driving cars. However, there are several other issues at play. Will the public at large accept self driving cars? Who is liable if a self driving car is in an accident? Is a safer self driving car really safe enough? It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the world of personal injuries. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our office for a free consultation. We can help. 

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