Thursday, June 11, 2015

Google Cars Show That Driving Legally Increases Accident Rates

From The Wall Street Journal, "When Robo-Cars crash, It’s Your Fault: Google’s self-driving car never causes an accident but still has more than most." by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr:
[F]rom a Google spokesperson: "We just got rear-ended again yesterday while stopped at a stoplight in Mountain View. That’s two incidents just in the last week where a driver rear-ended us while we were completely stopped at a light! So that brings the tally to 13 minor fender-benders in more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving—and still, not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident."
At 13 accidents per 1.8 million miles driven, Google’s accident rate is about twice the accident rate of the safest cohort of drivers, ages 40-64. At 7.2 per million miles, Google’s rate most closely matches the accident rate of drivers 70-74—perhaps shedding light on a widely read blog post by a driver in Google’s neighborhood who reported "Google cars drive like your grandma."
If Google’s claims are accurate, then we face a paradox: Google cars have more accidents than other drivers, and it’s the other driver’s fault.
On your daily high-speed commute, you and other practiced commuters zoom along efficiently at 20 mph above the speed limit—until a Google car appears in your lane rigidly adhering to the law. In New York City, a Google car would be a metaphysical impossibility. A Google car would never be able to make a left turn, never be able to pull away from the curb and into traffic, because aggressive taxi drivers would quickly learn to exploit its algorithms.

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