IMS Blog

Self-Driving Cars Safer Than Conventional Vehicles, Report Shows

With more and more automotive companies getting involved in the development of self-driving cars, many consumers are left wondering if these autonomous vehicles are actually any safer than their conventional counterparts. Now, a new report shows that self-driving cars do, in fact, get in fewer accidents.

The report, which was completed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, shows that self-driving cars have a rate of 3.2 crashes per million miles driven – compare that to human-operated cars (or your conventional vehicles), which have a rate of 4.2 crashes per one million miles.

Although the researchers couldn’t be conclusive, they suspected that conventional cars are also involved in more severe traffic accidents than self-driving vehicles. There is “statistically-significant data that suggest less severe events may happen at significantly lower rates for self-driving cars,” the Virginia Tech researchers note in their report, which is titled “Automated Vehicle Crash Rate Comparison Using Naturalistic Data.”

Of course, it’s also worth noting that, in virtually all cases, the self-driving cars involved in accidents were deemed to be not at fault. In fact, research shows that autonomous vehicles involved in fender-benders were usually rear-ended by conventional cars traveling at low speeds.

In addition, because they remain experimental, self-driving cars are required to report all accidents, however minor. That’s certainly not the case for conventional vehicles driven by humans, who often leave the scene of a minor accident without reporting it to the authorities.

Although the case for self-driving cars is mounting, one must remember that they’ve only driven a total of approximately 1.2 million miles – compared to roughly three trillion miles for conventional cars. Finally, few self-driving cars have been tested in inclement weather, such as a snow storm.

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