Automation has made our lives much easier. Indeed, technology today would look like magic to those even just a few decades ago. Once recent innovation that is not (yet) part of our lives is autonomous vehicles. If this technology achieves what its promoters have promised, we can all look forward to a much easier and safer future. Unfortunately, as it turns out, autonomous vehicles may not be the stewards of safety that we have been led to believe.
Automaker Tesla claims to have produced as many as 1 million cars capable of running autonomously. Honda reports its AV fleet at around 6 million. Many other manufacturers are already in the AV business, there are millions of AVs sharing our roads.
Full AV versus partial AV
There are two types of AVs, fully autonomous and partially autonomous. Most AVs today are partial AVs, such as the Tesla models with self-driving modes. These vehicles require a driver and can move between autonomous and non-autonomous modes. Others are fully AV, and are designed to operate without a driver. They may not even have the ability for a driver to take over if necessary.
Partial AV collision statistics
According to the NHTSA, there have been 400 AC collisions in the 11 months between July of last year and May of this year. Of those AC collisions, 273 involved a Tesla. California’s DMV reported that as of August 23, 2022, there were at least 506 AV collisions since March 2018. And, to date, the NHTSA reports that AV collisions have killed five people and at least six received serious injuries in an AV collision. Though, these numbers are underreported because the companies report them themselves, and customer reports to the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminisrtation are not always included.
NHTSA data shows that there have been at least 130 crashes that involved full AVs. None had any serious injuries or deaths.
California rules of the road
Our state is one of the few that allows both partial and full AVs. Each manufacturer must register and be approved by the California DMV, and there are ongoing reporting requirements, similar to those with the NHTSA. And, because of this, our state has more AVs than any other state, including fleets of experimental AVs. Nonetheless, it is important to note that a collision with a full or partial AV falls under the same negligence and tort laws as any other Placerville, California, motor vehicle accident.