In the first part of our series on self-driving vehicles, we examined a few of the main factors that underlie pedestrian-related accidents. Now, we’ll take a closer look at the latest statistics in the interest of determining how these vehicles are already impacting those traveling on two feet.
Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise
For years, American automakers and drivers have consistently made design and purchasing decisions that benefit drivers and passengers while placing pedestrians at risk. As a result, deaths have declined dramatically for vehicle occupants, while pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have seen a dramatic upswing. Federal data suggests that driver deaths fell 1 percent in 2018 — a direct contrast to the 4 percent increase in pedestrian deaths and 10 percent increase in cyclist deaths that year. In a piece published on Streetsblog, Aaron Short explained, “America’s roads are safe increasingly for only those who drive on them.”
While both smartphones and increased vehicle size have been referenced as top contributing factors in this disturbing trend, self-driving technology may also play a role. Unfortunately, while self-driving vehicles are increasingly adept at interacting with other vehicles, they struggle to identify pedestrians or predict how they might behave. This is true not only of fully-autonomous vehicles, but also those employing systems in which drivers are occasionally forced to take control. Skeptics suggest that these hybrid systems may prompt drivers to pay even less attention than they already do — and vulnerable pedestrians may suffer the consequences. Already, several accidents have been attributed to self-driving systems, including a Tempe pedestrian fatality in 2018 and a 2019 Miami fatality involving a Tesla.
Whether you were harmed in an accident involving a conventional car or a self-driving vehicle, you deserve support from an attorney who cares. Regan Zambri Long PLLC can assist with your personal injury case; reach out today to learn more.