For followers of Elon Musk and car enthusiasts, it may seem like we are on the cusp of an autonomous vehicle revolution. Though, it seems like that revolution has been on that cusp for the better part of a decade now.
Nonetheless, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are indeed both fully autonomous vehicles and millions of driver-assisted vehicles on the road today.
Full AV versus driver assisted
Full AVs are those vehicles that do not need a driver, or that may not even have a way for someone to drive them. They are fully driven by artificial intelligence.
Driver-assisted vehicles are all those vehicles that help you drive, using technology with names like “adaptive cruise control,” “autopilot,” “full self-driving,” or “traffic aware cruise control.” These are system that can technically drive the car for you, but you are still supposed to be in the driving position ready to take over, should something happen.
Do they outsmart car accidents?
No. Just like their not-intelligent counterparts, vehicles with artificial intelligence and other driver assistance technologies still crash.
According to the NHTSA, during the last data reporting period (July to May of this year), there were hundreds of car accidents that involved full AVs or cars with driver-assistance technologies.
These car accidents killed and maimed many drivers and passengers.
Are they safer?
These vehicles may be safer one day, but there is simply not enough data at the moment to know if these vehicles are truly safer than ordinary cars.
The NHTSA is researching this question, along with any potential issues with particular manufacturers and models. They are constantly looking for dangers on our roadways.
What if I get hit?
For our New Jersey readers, while this conversation may be interesting, the primary concern is what happens if they get hit by one of these vehicles.
In New Jersey, you are vastly more likely to be in a car accident with a driver assisted vehicle, rather than a full AV.
This means that it will be handled, essentially, the same as any other car accident. If the driver wants to blame their car, they have the burden of such proof, which can be extremely complicated.
For a full AV, there is no driver. So, for those car accidents, you will likely hold the owner and manufacturer responsible for the crash.