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Autonomous vehicles wouldn´t prevent all crashes in the near future

The focus of ongoing research about autonomous vehicles has been on whether they will be able to make roads completely safe.

A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that while autonomous vehicle technology has great promise to reduce crashes, it might prevent only around a third of all crashes if automated systems drive too much like people.

The group says that while self-driving vehicles eventually will identify hazards and react faster than humans, they won’t become distracted or drive impaired, but stopping the rest of the crashes will be a lot harder.

Crashes due to only sensing and perceiving errors accounted for 24 percent of the total, and incapacitation accounted for 10 percent. Those crashes might be avoided if all vehicles on the road were self-driving, though it would require sensors that worked perfectly and systems that never malfunctioned. The remaining two-thirds might still occur unless autonomous vehicles are also specifically programmed to avoid other types of predicting, decision-making and performance errors.

Alexandra Mueller, a research scientist at the IIHS said that their analysis shows that it will be crucial for designers to prioritize safety over rider preferences if autonomous vehicles are to live up to their promise to be safer than human drivers.