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Understanding new safety data on self-driving vehicles - Part I

Californians tend to be trend setters, whether they mean to be or not. When Californians become brave enough to try new sports, new styles, new laws and new ways of living, one area of the country or another almost inevitably follows suit. One of the latest trends that California has birthed is the trend of creating self-driving vehicle models. Although many of the nation’s large automakers are now creating prototypes of these vehicles and are studying their construction and production, California-based Google “drove” there first.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, it is from Google’s initial missteps in terms of safety that the rest of the country will learn from. Recently released data on the safety of self-driving vehicles will almost certainly help to inform the auto industry’s conversation about these vehicles moving forward. It will likely help to inform their production, their sales, the laws that govern them and the ways in which society reacts to these vehicles as they are released onto the nation’s roads.

Although Google was only one of seven companies initially asked to disclose certain information about its self-driving vehicles to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, this company’s wide testing of these vehicles is sure to have had some of the greatest impact on the analysis of this newly released data by experts in the field of transportation safety.

Of particular importance was the question of how often a motorist was compelled to take the wheel of a self-driving vehicle due to a safety issue or due to a technology failure. What did the newly released data indicate about the self-sufficiency of these vehicles and about their safety in general? Please check back, as we will be continuing our discussion on this important topic in an upcoming post.

Source: ABC News, “Questions and Answers About New Self-Driving Car Safety Data,” Justin Pritchard, Jan. 14, 2016

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