Self-driving cars — we have seen them in movies for years. We have dreamed of riding to work with our eyes closed or focused on the morning newspaper. Well, the future may be closer than we think because self-driving cars are already on our streets. However, accidents involving these autonomous vehicles are already happening.
- In May, a man using a Tesla Model S with the autopilot function enabled, died when the vehicle collided with a truck. The car’s sensors mistook the side of the truck for a brightly lit sky and failed to brake.
- Earlier this year, in Silicon Valley, a self-driving Google car collided with a bus while turning right.
With companies like Google and Tesla pursuing self-driving technologies, it is only a matter of time before autonomous cars are here for good. However, since ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are also pursuing this technology, there is a real safety question that all ridesharing customers will have to ask themselves: is it safe to use a self-driving Uber?
Are autonomous vehicles safe?
Since ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have already reduced the number of accidents from drunk driving, some assume that self-driving rideshare vehicles will only help to reduce dangerous accidents.
However, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) the crash rate for self-driving vehicles is five times higher than for regular vehicles. According to UMTRI, 11 self-driving car collisions occurred between 2012 and 2015. While investigations did not find the car to be at fault in any of the collisions, self-driving Ubers can — and have — made dangerous mistakes.
In late September 2016, a self-driving Uber turned the wrong way down a one-way street in Pittsburgh. While the driver (for now, the self-driving rideshare vehicles have a “safety driver” in the front seat) was able to turn around, this could have been a disastrous mistake.
A few weeks later, a self-driving Uber was involved in a rear-end collision (the second crash since self-driving Ubers began picking up passengers in September 2016). Fault is unclear, but it seems Uber’s testing of self-driving cars is off to a rough start.
And now that we are getting closer to winter, things might only get worse. A Volvo test drive in Sweden found that self-driving cars cannot contend with snow. Their cameras go blind and their sensors malfunction.
Are autonomous vehicles on the road in Texas?
Yes. While you will not see a self-driving Uber in Houston yet, Google expanded its Self-Driving Car Project to Austin earlier in 2016.
But those are not the only autonomous vehicles in Texas. In January, a self-driving Tesla drove itself down the Southwest Freeway in Houston (with a driver in the front seat). The driver needed to take control to get on the ramp, but gave the car control again once on the Westpark Tollway.
What does the emergence of self-driving Ubers mean for accidents and liability?
Liability in an Uber accident was already murky, but now that we are getting closer to having totally autonomous rideshare vehicles, the concept of fault for one of these collisions is even more confusing. Regardless, if you are injured in an Uber accident or a collision with a self-driving car, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our team can help you determine who is liable in a car accident, regardless of whether it happened with an Uber driver, passenger car driver, or self-driving car.
What should I do after a crash?
Even though you likely will not be getting into an accident with a self-driving Uber any time soon, Uber accidents are an all too common occurrence. After an accident, there are certain steps that you should take.
Just like with any car accident, you should collect eyewitness testimony and contact information from other people who saw or were involved in the accident. Always file a police report and, if possible, take photographs of the damage. Most importantly, you should contact a car accident lawyer to protect your legal rights after a crash.
Your lawyer can discuss your rights to compensation with you and help you wade through the complex liability issues surrounding Uber accidents.
If you or a loved one was injured in an Uber accident, the Law Offices of Hilda L. Sibrian, P.C., in Houston, Texas can help. Call us at 713-863-1515 or visit our website to set up a free consultation with a car accident attorney. Our attorneys can help you file a personal injury claim with Uber or another ridesharing service provider.