When it comes to the future of motorist safety, the contest will not be man versus machine. Most safety advocates are already in agreement: machines win.
Those injured in Providence find most commonly that human error is to blame.
Many motorists assume self-driving auto technology is years away. They are wrong. Self-driving cars have already been on the road in California and Michigan for a number of years and rapid rollout of the technology is expected nationwide in the coming decade.
The impact on injury law cannot be overstated.
One of the primary reasons for the rush to deploy this cutting-edge technology is simple: Machines are already proving themselves to be better drivers.
This summer, the Providence Journal reported a 70 percent spike in the number of traffic deaths in Rhode Island. Causes of high-profile traffic fatalities last year included an unlicensed teen driver, road rage, pedestrian fatalities and a one-vehicle accident that killed three women who crashed into a telephone pole.
Distracted driving, drunk driving and excessive speed were other common factors in the state's fatal collisions.
Each common cause had one common element, human error. Safety advocates hope machines can help save us from ourselves.
Self-driving technology could lead to a massive drop in injuries, fatalities
Forbes magazine reported that some safety advocates are hoping self-driving technology could reduce the risks of traffic fatalities by 90 percent over the next 15 years.
Some are less optimistic about the technological revolution. For the foreseeable future, human supervisors will likely remain behind the wheel while the focus remains on developing safety technology to assist motorists. How such technology will affect Rhode Island injury law is uncertain.
Certainly, it will require litigation against some of the nation’s largest corporations, which continue to develop and deploy these nascent technologies at a rapid pace. But it will also require continued diligence in identifying at-fault motorists and other third parties who may share blame for causing a serious or fatal traffic collision.
Make no mistake about it, when it comes to traffic collisions, humans are mostly to blame.
In fact, building machines capable of responding to our erratic behavior behind the wheel remains one of the primary challenges of deploying self-driving technology on the roads nationwide, according to a recent report in Wired Magazine.
Building driverless cars that can interact with bicyclists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles will be critical to bringing such technology safely to the road. And still the challenge of overcoming the ingrained habits of human motorists means other challenges will remain. In a separate Wired article, mathematicians postulated that every traffic jam in America can be traced back to one basic traffic rule almost universally ignored by motorists: maintain the right distance from the cars in front of you and behind you.
One thing is for certain: As we continue to see deployment of this technology in the years ahead, it will make it even more important to hire an experienced auto accident attorney in the wake of a serious or fatal injury accident.