New Study Says Self-Driving Cars Won’t Eliminate Most Accidents

As technology becomes more and more integrated into our lives, more questions are raised. If we replace store clerks with self-checkout stations, how will these people make a living? If vehicles are manufactured to operate without a driver, how safe are they really going to be? While there may not be an answer to all of the questions you have, studies are being done to determine how much safer vehicles are going to be if a person is not responsible for driving it but instead a computer.

And according to a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it appears self-driving vehicles may not be able to avoid the most common types of car accidents.

After researchers at the IIHS examined more than 5,000 police-reported crashes from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, they were able to conclude that “autonomous vehicles might prevent only around a third of all crashes if automated systems drive too much like people” only because they “have more accurate perception than human drivers and aren’t vulnerable to incapacitation.” The other two-thirds of the accidents may only be avoidable if automated vehicles are “specifically programmed to prioritize safety over speed and convenience.”

Alexandra Mueller, who is the lead author of the study and an IIHS Research Scientist, says that “building self-driving cars that drive as well as people do is a big challenge in itself. But they’d actually need to be better than that to deliver on the promises we’ve all heard.”

In the study, researchers examined the police-reported crashes and separated them by driver-related factors that contributed to the crashes. These are the five categories researchers came up with:

  1. Sensing and perceiving errors (i.e. driver distractions).
  2. Predicting errors (i.e. misjudging a gap in traffic).
  3. Planning and deciding errors (i.e. driving too fast or too flow for roadway conditions).
  4. Execution and performance errors (i.e. mistakes in controlling the vehicle).
  5. Incapacitation (i.e. impaired due to drugs or alcohol).


Researchers took these factors and then imagined that a self-driving vehicle had been in control of the vehicle at the time rather than the driver. What they found was that an automated vehicle would have only been able to prevent those stemming from sensing and perceiving errors, which equates to about 24% of the accidents and those caused by incapacitation, which accounted for only 10%. The remaining crashes “might still occur unless autonomous vehicles are also specifically programmed to avoid other types of predicting, decision-making, and performance errors.”

In the meantime, while manufacturers and researchers work to improve the performance of self-driving vehicles, accidents are still happening. If you or someone you know was involved in an accident in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and would like to discuss recovering compensation for your injuries/losses, you are encouraged to contact Madalon Law. The Fort Lauderdale, FL accident lawyers at Madalon Law have extensive experience with handling cases stemming from car crashes and can help you recover the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to.


You can reach Madalon Law at:


100 N. Federal Highway, #CU5

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Phone: 954-923-0072