Humans—Not Technology—Are the Leading Cause of Self-Driving Car Accidents in California

Self-driving cars will eventually hit the roads. But it might still be humans we’ll need to worry about when that happens.

In a study of vehicle incident reports in California, Axios found that humans were at fault in the vast majority of accidents that occurred on the roads. The study, which spans 2014 through 2018, found that when the self-driving cars were in autonomous mode and driving on their own, 38 incidents occurred while moving. In all but one of those cases, the accidents were caused by humans.

Axios also found that there were 24 incidents when autonomous mode was on and the vehicle was stopped—none of them was caused by the self-driving technology. Even when the cars were in conventional mode, allowing for human interaction, just six of the 19 incidents when the cars were moving were caused by the self-driving technology.

The study is nothing if not an important look at what we can expect from the future. Self-driving cars are widely viewed in the technology and auto industries as critical to future transportation. But some drivers have anxiety over the idea of a car driving itself and not giving the human easy control over its movement.

However, the study suggests that humans are still the biggest problem. In fact, in three accident reports, humans were found to have attacked or climbed atop the self-driving cars.

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