When Carl Benz conceived the first lightweight car powered by a gasoline engine in the closing years of the 19th century, he could never have imagined the challenges faced by those in the 21st century, where a self-driving car is fast becoming a commonplace reality.
With big names like Tesla, Google, Uber, and Waymo betting their money on self-driving cars, it’s clear that this form of transportation will be part of the future. However, the utopia associated with self-driving cars is starting to give way to reality as engineers realize that driverless vehicles present new challenges that need novel solutions.
One of the biggest challenges associated with self-driving cars comes about when the vehicle causes a fatality. This results in a vital question: Is it still wrongful death if the car is driving itself?
To answer the question above, we will need to start by defining the idea of a self-driving car and wrongful death in general. We will then look at specific car accident cases where self-driving cars have killed people, leading to lawsuits. This should provide an idea of the arguments made by experts in this area regarding the question above.
As you read this article, it’s vital to remember that any information provided here is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice.
Self-Driving Car Accident Statistics:
Here are some numbers summarizing the situation with regards to self-driving cars and the fatalities they have caused:
- You may be surprised to learn that self-driving cars cause more accidents (9.1 accidents per million miles driven) than vehicles involving a human driver (4.1 accidents per million miles driven)
- To date, the number of deaths linked to a Tesla where the Autopilot was engaged is six.
- The 2019 traffic fatality rate was 1.1 fatalities per 100 million miles driven (including both human-driven cars and vehicles with self-driving capabilities).
- Estimates indicate that Tesla Autopilot has driven about 3.3 billion miles. This implies that driving a Tesla on Autopilot (about one fatality in 550 million miles driven) is safer than human driving (about 1.1 fatalities per 100 million miles driven).
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