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Self-driving cars aren't close to being safe yet

California residents may be excited to get their own self-driving cars, but these vehicles might not be released on the market anytime soon. A report from the Rand Corporation urges caution and much more testing before letting these cars drive in real-world conditions.

Some autonomous vehicles have already debuted on public roads to mixed results. A Tesla driver died in May 2016 when his vehicle hit a truck. The Tesla Model S Autopilot didn't brake because the bright sky prevented the system from detecting a white truck. Uber Technologies was responsible for the first pedestrian fatality attributed to AV, and the company temporarily stopped their testing but has since resumed their efforts.

The Rand report about AV found that it is difficult to ensure the vehicles are safe enough before releasing them onto roadways. Test-driving alone is not enough to provide a reliable level of safety, and the amount of driving time needed to ensure the cars serve their intended purpose is too great. Millions or billions of miles would be necessary to prove they reduce injury and fatality rates.

With 7 billion miles traveled on virtual roads and 10 million miles traversed on actual roads, Rand still believes this is not enough distance to guarantee Waymo autonomous vehicles are safe. However, there is hope. The Drive Constellation simulator developed by Nvidia allows for testing that covers a broad range of topics like traffic flow, weather and the angle of the sun.

As self-driving cars that increase safety and reduce accidents are a long way away, it is a driver's responsibility to use caution when navigating roadways. When a driver engages in negligent behavior that causes injury to another person, this driver could be responsible for expenses relating to the incident. Car accidents caused by texting and driving or speeding could be the result of negligence.

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