Crash Rates for Self-Driving Cars Is Less Than Regular Cars

Self-driving cars are involved in fewer crashes than regular cars with human driver according to a study released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and commissioned by Google.

Comparisons based on existing data have been incomplete as requirements in each state for police reported crashes differ, and the majority of severe crashes that go unreported. Meanwhile, self-driving cars are required to report every crash, regardless of severity.

The test fleet has reported 17 crashes over the last six years. although none were the fault of the self-driving cars, Google said.

After adjusting for severity and accounting for crashes, not reported to police, the study estimated cars with drivers behind the wheel are involved in 4.2 crashes per million miles, versus 3.2 crashes per million miles for self-driving cars in autonomous mode.

As self-driving cars continue to be tested and increase their exposure, the uncertainty in their event rates will decrease. This is particularly appropriate to vehicles intended for lower-speed use where less-severe events are the most likely to be encountered by the newer generation of the Self-Driving Car fleet.

Google spokesman Johnny Luu said the company asked Virginia Tech “to look into the topic given the interest and develop a robust methodology to be able to make a meaningful comparison between regular cars on the road as well as our self-driving cars.”

Related: The Future of Google Self-Driving Car with the New California’s Rules

In December, California proposed state regulations that would require all self-driving cars to have a steering wheel with a licensed driver take over in the event something went wrong. Google disappointed by this rule and they said to continue working with the DMV as they seek feedback in the coming months, in the hope that they can recapture the original spirit of the bill.

Google, Self-Driving Car, tech

Originally published at on January 8, 2016.

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