As a California driver, you have seen self-driving cars on the road. You may have even taken a ride-share in a car that drives itself. But do these vehicles make your road safer?
After a fatal accident in Arizona last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) compiled a report to study the safety of testing self-driving cars on public roads. In their report, they found that both the federal and state governments need more regulation to ensure that testing autonomous vehicles is safe.
Distracted backup driver didn’t stop car for pedestrian
The accident last year involved an Uber that failed to stop before hitting a woman in the street. Each self-driving vehicle must have a human backup driver who can take over if the car isn’t driving safely. But the backup driver was looking at her phone at the time of the accident. When a pedestrian walked out into the middle of the street, the car struck the pedestrian. The woman died as a result of the crash.
NTSB says states need to increase safety regulations
The NTSB said the backup driver’s distraction was the main cause of the accident. But they also blamed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for letting companies test these vehicles without proper regulations or safety reports. The NTSB also said that states that allow testing need to have more regulations that keep pedestrians and other drivers safe.
Without regulations, the NTSB says companies testing self-driving cars are not using enough safety measures.
Self-driving cars are still on your highways
Since the accident, Uber has stopped testing self-driving cars in California. But 62 other companies can still test autonomous vehicles in the state. And only 16 of these companies voluntarily submit safety reports to the NHTSA.
When you head out on the road, you may worry about a potential crash from a distracted driver. But even when there is no driver, you can face an accident.
As the technology improves, you will see more and more autonomous vehicles on public highways. Only time will tell if these vehicles make your drive safer.