Maryland residents who are waiting for self-driving cars to become commonplace may wait a little longer as engineers deal with a conundrum that tests have revealed. By driving as safely as possible and obeying traffic laws, self-driving cars are twice as likely to be involved in accidents than cars driven by humans. The self-driving cars are not at fault. Instead, they are hit by human drivers after failing to make intuitive adjustments in their driving. The crashes have been minor.
For example, one self-driving car struggled to merge onto I-395 South near the Pentagon during heavy traffic. Because the self-driving car was unable to make the assumption that other drivers would allow the merge, a human had to take over the controls. In another case, a self-driving car creeping into the intersection to turn right on red was hit from behind by a car traveling 4 miles per hour.
In California, where much of the testing is taking place, there is a proposal to require the cars to allow a human to take over. Engineers at Google have developed a car that lacks braking or a steering wheel, and the company has expressed disappointment in the proposal.
Despite some predictions that self-driving cars will significantly increase road safety, these issues demonstrate that there is still a great deal of work to be done. In the meantime, human error still leads to many motor vehicle accidents. In some cases, people may be seriously injured. This could lead to financial problems such as medical bills and an inability to return to work. In these circumstances, a person who has been injured may want to have the assistance of an attorney in filing a lawsuit against the negligent motorist.