Self-driving vehicles still seem like a dream from the future. With exciting news coming out each month about the progress of self driving cars, one is left to wonder how safe these vehicles really are. Today Google has given us some great insight. In a post by Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program, Chris explained that Google’s self driving cars have been in 11 accidents. At first glance this seems like a lot, but when you factor in that Google has a fleet of 20+ vehicles and these vehicles have driven over 1.7 million miles, 11 accidents is phenomenal. (Heck, my wife and I have been in three accidents and we have not driven nearly the amount of miles Google’s cars have.) Here’s what Urmson had to say about these 11 accidents:
Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.
The fact that Google’s vehicles were not once at fault should help put your mind at ease. In Google’s 1.7 million miles, the company has observed quite a bit about us human drivers as well. Here are some interesting statistics:
- Rear-end crashes are the most frequent accidents in America.
- Google has seen more accidents per mile driven on city streets than on freeways.
- In any given daylight moment in America there are 660,000 people behind the wheel.
- Over the last several years, 21% of the fatalities and about 50% of the serious injuries on U.S. roads have involved intersections.
So are self driving cars really safer? In my opinion, they are; especially when you consider the human element of driving. Chris stated that in their 1.7 million miles of driving they saw cars weaving on the road due to people reading books and even once playing a trumpet! You’ve likely seen countless people texting, putting on makeup, or even watching movies while driving. With Google’s 360 degree visibility and 100% attention on driving in all direction all the time, there’s really no argument against Google’s self-driving car, or any data to suggest that the autonomous car is any less safer than the average driver.
If Google’s statistics are any indication, the introduction of mainstream self-driving vehicles are bound to make our roads safer.. We have discussed self-driving cars many times in our Podcasts, and we agree that when we get to the point when autonomous vehicles begin communicating with one other, the amount of accidents we see will be slim to none. A few accidents are inevitable as technology will never be perfect, but I’m far more comfortable in a self-driving car than riding passenger with a teen driver taking a selfie.
What are your thoughts? Would you feel safer in a self-driving car? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.