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Could self-driving cars be safer than human-driven ones?

If you are like many Connecticut residents, you probably love the idea of self-driving cars. In theory, it sounds wonderful: Instead of tightly gripping the steering wheel during rush-hour traffic you could be relaxing while reading a book or getting a head-start on work before arriving at the office.

Google and other companies are busy trying to make this dream a reality, and analysts predict that in about five years there could be self-driving vehicles on the market.

But can we trust self-driving cars to get us from Point A to Point B safely? We all know that technology is far from perfect, and when it comes to vehicles, a glitch could potentially be deadly.

Google argues that a computer-controlled car is still safer than one controlled by a human, even with the occasional glitch. That’s because a majority of car accidents are caused by human error, Google says.

Google along with several automakers are working on developing autonomous vehicles by adding the technology to car models that are already on the road today. The technology allows the self-driving cars to detect traffic, stoplights and lanes while at the same time communicating with GPS data.

Current law requires a licensed driver to be inside of an autonomous vehicle at all times and that person must remain ready to change the operating system from automatic to manual if need be. But it is likely that companies developing the autonomous vehicles will push for laws that are more lax.

From a personal injury standpoint, autonomous vehicles could greatly change the outcome of claims stemming from car accident cases. Would individuals be held liable for the actions of their self-driving vehicles? This question and others will need to be examined in the near future.

Source: CBS Boston, “Are Self-Driving Cars Safe?” June 23, 2014

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