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Are self-driving cars safer than human operated cars?

One of the more fascinating and controversial topics in California right now is the use of self-driving vehicles on the highways. It's not surprising that California, home of Silicon Valley and some of the most innovative technology firms on the planet, is the first state to experience the excitement of this breakthrough, but it does have some potential downsides. Being a pioneer also means having to deal with new problems, and California lawmakers are struggling with how to regulate these vehicles and protect other drivers at the same time.

Google was one of the first companies on the autonomous vehicle scene, and since their first vehicles hit the test tracks six years ago they have logged over 1.7 million miles on highways amongst human drivers. Things may not have gone flawlessly at all times, but as far as safety goes, they do seem to have a fairly encouraging track record. According to a recent article, there have been 11 car accidents involving their autonomous vehicles and, perhaps most importantly, no injuries to drivers in either vehicle. Furthermore, the company states that these crashes were caused by human error, not the car's autonomous driving function.

So, is this the new wave of the future? It remains to be seen how self-driving vehicle technology could play a bigger role in our lives, but it does seem to hold some exciting promise. Imagine cutting down on the serious injuries and deaths caused by drunk driving, inattentive driving and just plain old human mistakes. Texting and driving is a common cause of accidents today, but in the passenger seat of a self-driven car a passenger could text and browse without jeopardizing their safety.

It may be years or decades before this technology becomes commonplace, but in the meantime we can all do our part to make the roads safer. This includes driving defensively, putting the cell phone and other distractions away and watching out for cyclists and pedestrians. This cuts down on car accidents, but unfortunately car accidents still occur, and when they do it can be important to get more information about legal options.

Source: California DMV "Autonomous Vehicles" accessed July 13, 2015

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