Why Do Drivers Keep Rear-Ending Self-Driving Vehicles?

Why Do Drivers Keep Rear-Ending Self-Driving Vehicles?

You’ve probably heard about some major accidents involving self-driving vehicles, such as the fatal self-driving Uber crash that took the life of a pedestrian in Arizona. While major crashes like these get the most media attention, they are not the most common types of accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

According to 2018 data on self-driving vehicles in California, 28 of 49 accident reports involved the self-driving vehicles being rear-ended. Sideswipe collisions were the second most common type of accident, and pedestrian accidents trailed those. In a majority of the rear-end crashes reported, the self-driving cars were in autonomous mode (not controlled manually by a driver).

So, why are drivers rear-ending autonomous vehicles? The data isn’t entirely clear, but it could have to do with the self-driving vehicles driving very conservatively—stopping for no clear reason, or traveling at unexpectedly slow speeds. As for the sideswipe accidents, many seem to be caused by drivers becoming frustrated while stuck behind an autonomous vehicle and trying to pass it.

Is There a Solution?

For autonomous vehicles to one day become standard on our roadways, testing them on those roads is a necessary step. But is there a way to do it that would reduce accidents and keep drivers from becoming frustrated driving alongside these vehicles?

Public awareness of the nature of autonomous vehicles might be a starting point. Autonomous companies should be actively engaging with communities where they are testing their vehicles, helping drivers understand the way these vehicles drive and learn. It may also help to clearly identify these vehicles as self-driving with some kind of easily recognizable emblem.

“In the long-run, self-driving vehicles will make our roads safer. However, there is bound to be a good deal of trial and error as these vehicles are tested and refined. Public awareness about autonomous vehicles is an important step to integrating them into our daily lives,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

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