breaks down the leading causes of car accidents.
In summary, they are:
1. Distracted driving. Well, computers don't get "distracted."
2. Driver fatigue. Computers also don't get tired!
3. Drunk driving. Or drunk.
4. Speeding. Self-driving cars could potentially go faster than is safe for humans, but would be programmed never to go faster than conditions permit be done safely.
5. Aggressive driving. Computers don't get mad, either.
6. Weather. A self-driving system would behave more conservatively in bad weather conditions, and it would have more data (such as infrared) to work with.
Now the legal questions. Who gets sued if my driverless car hits someone? I only get a ticket if, say, I don't have my car serviced on time?
That has yet to be sorted out, but manufacturers should be liable for any defects, while the owner is liable if they aren't doing proper maintenance.
Let me also give you two scenarios:
Let's say I have been drinking a little bit, get behind the wheel of a car, and drive a bit too fast, say, through a school zone. (something I don't do BTW)
I do look around, and I see a young child chasing a ball down a hill. The ball disappears between two parked cars.
There is no obstruction yet, but I know what is going to happen, In a moment, the ball will appear in front of me, and a second or two later, so will the child.
So I apply the brake in anticipation. Lo and behold, the child jumps out in front of me, and he goes home safe after I get his attention with a horn blast.
Same scenario, but with a driverless car.
It can never be drunk, always obeys all laws, never speeds. But it cannot anticipate. It uses sensors, even visual sensors the way a blind man uses a stick.
Machines image, people see.
Such motion can be detected with greater accuracy and anticipation than a human. The car would notice there's a problem before you would. (In fact, there are new cars which will sense impending collisions with pedestrians and stop immediately to avoid them.)
I am in the car reading my morning (paper?) newstablet. The car is in the school zone. It can sense no obstruction. Then the ball and boy emerge right in front of it--and the tyke is struck.
So which was safer then, a drunk driver who anticipates, or a perfect reaction time machine with no common sense? In this case, the drunk driver is actually safer.
The self-driving car is safer because it wouldn't hit the kid. Also, if you think a drunk barreling through a school zone is going to hit the brakes fast enough to avoid hurting anyone, I don't think you get drunk that much. The scenario you describe far, far more often ends with the drunk hitting the kid and not even noticing,
on account of being totally shitfaced.