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Are Self-Driving Cars Safer Than Humans?

The answer appears to be yes.


A new study published by researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and General Motors (which owns Cruise, the autonomous taxi service) reveals that human ridehail drivers are more prone to accidents than self-driving cars in San Francisco.


Cruise autonomous taxi
Credit: Cruise

The study collected data from 5.6 million miles of human ridehail driving and 1 million miles of driverless taxis in San Francisco which, let's face it, is a complex urban environment with challenging road conditions. The study measured the crash rates, crash contributions and crash severity of both human and autonomous drivers.


The results showed that human ridehail drivers had a crash rate of 50.5 crashes per million miles, while self-driving cars had a crash rate of just less than half that, at 23. Moreover, human drivers were the primary contributors to 69 percent of their crashes, while self-driving cars were the primary contributors to only 10 percent of their crashes.


Furthermore, human drivers had a higher rate of crashes with meaningful risk of injury than self-driving cars. The study estimated that human drivers caused 0.24 injuries per million miles and 0.01 fatalities per million miles, while self-driving cars caused 0.06 and 0 respectively.


It therefore looks like, with self-driving cars, we can look forward to safer roads with less deaths and serious injuries.

 
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