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Legal Blog

Debate Over Google Self-Driving Cars

The concept of self-driving cars can often be found in sci-fi books and films, but is it really possible for autonomous vehicles to operate safely in the real world? In 2009, Google launched an ambitious project to test the first fleet of self-driving vehicles in California and Texas. Since then, Google’s prototypes have logged over a million miles on public roads with high rates of success. Citing the fact that 94 percent of car collisions involve human error, Google seeks to reduce traffic accident injuries, as well as offer better commuting options for elderly and visually impaired individuals.

How Does It Work?

A Google self-driving vehicle will use advanced software technology to collect information about its surroundings on the road before determining the best course of action. Every car is equipped with sensors to detect objects such as pedestrians, cyclists, and other cars, from up to two football fields away. Because of their fully automated systems, Google self-driving cars can prevent some of the top causes of fatal accidents including drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding.

Safety Risks of Self-Driving Cars

According to the November 2015 Monthly Report, Google self-driving cars have only been involved in 17 minor accidents since the start of the project in 2009. Even though Google claims that their vehicles were never the cause of any accident, self-driving cars can still pose safety risks for passengers and pedestrians. In particular, automated cars might have difficulty reacting to sudden and unpredictable collisions, especially if their sensors or navigation technology happen to malfunction. Google plans to eventually launch a finished product without a steering wheel, brakes, or other manual controls so it will also be challenging for passengers to respond to emergencies.

In addition, reports have found that Google self-driving vehicles are programmed to be ‘over-cautious,’ which can result in problems. Recently, a self-driving car was pulled over by law enforcement for moving too slowly and blocking traffic. The vehicle had been traveling at around 24 miles per hour on a 35 mph road. Accidents can occur when an autonomous vehicle is designed to strictly follow traffic regulations without the ability to accommodate for human behavior. For example, possible accident scenarios include:

  • A Google self-driving car approaches pedestrian crosswalk and brakes, even when there are no pedestrians. As a result, the vehicle behind it rear-ends the automated car.
  • A Google self-driving car instinctively slows down as the speed limit on a highway changes, but another vehicle attempting to merge might not expect the shift, and a collision occurs.
  • A reckless driver fails to bypass a slow-moving Google car, causing a serious car crash.

Compensation for Car Accident Injuries

Although self-driving cars have the potential to minimize human driving error, they are not immune to motor vehicle accidents. As long as there are still human drivers on Houston’s roads, car collisions will inevitably happen. However, when you are injured in a serious Houston car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you should not be held responsible for the resulting damages. The experienced Houston car accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. can help assess your individual case, and determine your best legal options. In the past, we have helped our clients obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost earning capacity, mental anguish, pain and suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other damages.

Contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today at (281) 853-9500 to schedule a free legal evaluation with one of our skilled Houston car accident injury attorneys.