People in Washington may be interested to learn about a new study that exposes a serious flaw in driverless cars. According to the study, the cars, touted as providing safety from accidents, have twice the accident rate as do other vehicles on the road.
According to researchers, the problem appears to lie in the fact that driverless cars are programmed to never violate the traffic laws. While this may seem desirable, other drivers on the road around the cars do not obey traffic laws. Issues have arisen when the driverless cars stop suddenly due to sensing such things as pedestrians on sidewalks nearby. When they do so in situations a human driver would normally not, many vehicles behind the cars tend to run into the back of the driverless cars.
Another issue causing accidents is the fact that driverless cars always follow the speed limits. When heavy traffic is moving at a faster rate, the driverless car will not. Similarly, problems occur when a driverless car attempts to merge onto a highway, especially if the car must cross several lanes in order to get into the needed one. The cars around the driverless one may not allow them into traffic, and the driverless cars do not have the human reactions necessary to avoid accidents.
While researchers expect accident rates to go up when more driverless cars enter the market, they also believe injury rates will fall. This is because the accidents that occur with driverless cars have fewer auto injuries, primarily because many of them occur at lower speeds. Still, manufacturers are thinking about the kinds of tweaks they can make in the programming to help reduce the accident rates. One suggestion is to program the cars in a way that allows them to disobey traffic laws in instances where doing so is necessary.