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What Is An Autonomous Car?

It would not be inaccurate to say that society is currently in the midst of a technology revolution. Every day there seems to be a device that is designed to make lives easier and increase the amount of free time that individuals with busy schedules enjoy. One activity that tends to take up a lot of time is, undeniably, driving. It is not uncommon for a professional to spend several hours each day in traffic while on their way to or from work, and some commutes are much longer than even that. It makes sense, then, that innovators would try to make the most of that time spent driving in addition to making it safer experience overall – and that’s exactly what the autonomous car strives to do. Autonomous cars are vehicles that are self-driving in nature. They are controlled by a machine rather than a human, in other words, and ideally require no human input to safely and effectively deliver its occupants to their destinations. The idea is a particularly attractive one to those aforementioned professionals who would love to make their commutes less stressful, less dangerous in busy traffic, and more relaxing overall. Autonomous cars seem poised to do exactly that, offering owners the ability to ride to their destination with little-to-no attention focused on the road whatsoever.

As with so many things, of course, reality is often much less glamorous and ideal than the concept itself. In practice, autonomous cars have not proven to be the safe and convenient technological devices that they are hoped to be. In fact, they have been quite dangerous in certain situations and have caused more than a few fatalities along the way. Let’s take a look at autonomous cars, how accidents involving them occur, and what to do if you find yourself a victim of such an occurrence.


Autonomous cars are touted as the Next Big Thing looming just over the horizon. There have even been prototypes of the interiors of these hypothetical luxury vehicles offering their owners a functional workspace or comfortable lounge. Current autonomous vehicles are far from this idealized state, however, where human drivers are completely unneeded. And while many driverless vehicles have done well in trials in certain markets, there have been a significant number of accidents and even fatalities caused by them as well. The most recent is perhaps a driverless car belonging to Uber which struck and killed a woman in Arizona on March 25th, 2018. It is important to note that, given that this was a trial vehicle to see how smoothly autonomous cars navigated traffic, there actually was a human in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Even with their input, they were unable to alter the course of the car.

To be frank, there is not enough data on autonomous vehicles and their accident statistics to definitively say whether or not these accidents are “common”. The machine itself is not yet a common one, in fact, so it is difficult to come up with a specific percentage regarding just how common or uncommon accidents are. With that said, there have been more than a few high-profile cases of fatal accidents within the last few years involving driverless vehicles – enough to say that heightened caution around the technology is recommended.


An autonomous vehicle is one that has no human driver (or has a human “driver” who is only present to ensure the car remains on course). These vehicles, in theory, should be able to map out traffic patterns and habits according to their specific market areas and offer a safer and more effective transportation option than traditional vehicles. In reality, there are a wide array of reasons that could cause the vehicle to end up in an accident. Because the car relies on software to navigate the streets safely, for example, any hiccup in the programming could cause devastating accidents, especially in particularly high-traffic and busy areas. Another reason that autonomous cars have ended up in accidents is their inability to “see” individuals that are outside of expected zones. Someone outside of the crosswalk, for example, isn’t exhibiting behavior that can be anticipated – they’re walking outside of the lines, in other words. This can cause problems and was in fact the cause of the aforementioned fatal accident in Arizona. The pedestrian was allegedly walking out side of the designated pedestrian zone when the driverless vehicle pulled up and ran into her.


The main risk of riding in an autonomous car is the possibility of an accident. Again, it’s too soon to say whether autonomous cars are more or less likely than traditional vehicles to experience deadly crashes, but common sense seems to imply that they are somewhat more likely to have issues. The problem is that while the driverless vehicle might have the ideal route and car speed programed into its hardware, it cannot anticipate the unexpected. That might sound a bit obvious, but it’s an important point to make. Human beings might not be able to anticipate the unexpected, but at this point they are better able to react to these events and correct their vehicles without serious injuries or damage. Autonomous vehicles don’t have that instinct and can often be slower to react. Riding in a driverless car means accepting that risk and understanding that you are no safer than you would be in a traditional vehicle.


When it comes to the safety of autonomous vehicles, the jury is still out. It is perhaps a bit too soon to answer the question definitively one way or the other, however it is fair to say that there are a variety of issues with driverless vehicles that need to be worked out before they are reliably used in everyday traffic. In certain markets, they might be safer than in others. One of the only ways to be sure would be to contact the owner of the car and request further information about its statistics, perhaps. Another way, of course, is to contact an experienced attorney familiar with autonomous car accidents and their potentially fatal results.


Have you been injured as the result of an autonomous vehicle accident? If so, you might be wondering where to even begin when it comes to recovering your expenses, medical bills, and damage to your property. It is important that you reach out to an attorney who understands the law surrounding autonomous vehicles and is ready and willing to help you try your case.


If you have been injured by an autonomous vehicle, keep in mind that the sooner you find an attorney, the sooner we can begin working on your case and moving towards settlement (or trial). With that in mind, reach out to us today for more information about how exactly we can help! We fight for our client’s rights and defend them vigorously.

If you need help and have been injured by a driverless vehicle, we can help. 

Huner Law Offices, LLC