Is it more dangerous to have self-driving cars on the road, or exhausted drivers who fall asleep at the wheel? Just this March, Uber shut down its self-driving car campaign in Tempe, Arizona due to an Uber accident involving one of its driverless cars. Similarly, in June of last year, a Tesla autonomous vehicle was involved in the first fatal accident for a self-driving car when its driver died in a truck accident in Florida.
On the other hand, tired driving causes over 100,000 accidents every year, and kills over 1,550 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Which of these is more dangerous? Luckily, these problems actually may help solve each other.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident with a sleeping driver or a self-driving car, make sure to take your case to an attorney. While self-driving car accidents may be rare, tired driving is all too common. The Philadelphia car accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm may be able to help you get compensation when you’ve been injured in a car accident.
Self-Driving Car and Tired Driving Statistics
As of the writing of this article, self-driving cars are still quite rare. In the past few years, there have only been a few reported incidents of accidents involving self-driving cars. In many crashes, the cause has actually been human-error, not the self-driving car. Many people have strong concerns about whether self-driving cars are safe, but many have a backup driver on-board and follow traffic laws to the letter. It is usually the other, the human driver’s fault when an accident occurs.
In the 2017 Tempe, Arizona Uber crash, apparently the human driver, who failed to yield when making a left turn, crashed into the self-driving Volvo coming from the other direction. Similarly, in 2016, a human driver ran a red light and crashed into a Google self-driving car. A 2016 bus accident with a Google self-driving car and the deadly Tesla accident is the only widely-reported instances of self-driving accidents where any fault could be placed on the self-driving car.
Tired driving, on the other hand, is responsible for over a thousand deaths and a hundred thousand accidents every year. AAA reports that there is an 11.5% risk of a car accident when the driver has had less than four hours of sleep in the past 24 hours, compared to the 1.3% risk for drivers with sleep between six and seven hours. Similarly, driving with four or more hours less than your typical full night’s rest may increase your accident rate by around 10.2 times.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one in 25 adult drivers in the US report having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past 30 days. Especially at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel are sleep-deprived drivers, commercial truck drivers, people who work night shift, people with sleep conditions, and people taking medication with the side effect of drowsiness.
Can Driverless Cars Eliminate Tired Driving?
One of the benefits that technology companies highlight for self-driving cars is the ability to drive in all conditions. Self-driving cars are operated by computers, which do not need sleep, do not get tired, and do not stop paying attention. This means that these driverless cars could run at all hours of the day or night, at the same level of safety, without human error.
Especially after long car trips, human drivers can become extremely tired. Their reaction time and decision-making ability delays, or the driver fall unconscious altogether. Self-driving cars do not have these problems. Replacing long-haul trucking with autonomous vehicles could eliminate many of the problems involved with trucking accidents. The same is true for reducing the accident risk for drivers who work long shifts or night shifts.
The question of whether these self-driving cars are safe is still an issue. Until these systems become more dependable, we may prefer human drivers. Only if these systems can be implemented safely and consistently can we really trust self-driving cars to solve the problems of tired driving.
Since most self-driving cars allow for a back-up, human driver, the issues may still remain. If the autonomous systems were to fail, or a human driver needs to override them, the human driver could still be tired, drunk, or otherwise unable to drive safely. Even with 100% self-driving cars, we cannot fully escape the risk of tired drivers – but we may be able to reduce it.
Contact Our Attorneys if You Were Injured in an Auto Accident
The Lancaster car accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm represent injured car accident victims throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. If you have been injured in a car accident or you have lost a loved one to a car accident, talk to an attorney today. Call (215) 709-6940 today for a free consultation on your injury case.