It’s tough to say they’re causing accidents when the majority of the accidents is them getting rear ended. Normally, when one gets rear ended it’s the rear ender not the rear endee that’s at fault.
Now I do understand that it’s because they’re not driving like humans and humans, the rear enders, are expecting the car to do something different, i.e. not slow down and stop for the yellow light or turn when there’s a certain amount of space between cars, while the self-driving car has been programmed to be more cautious or law abiding. Regardless, I would say that if you rear end someone it’s your fault for not being attentive enough, not the rear endee’s fault.
And hopefully technology will get rid of the rear end crash. I can’t find the source but I read somewhere that no Volvo with rear end crash prevention technology has ever been invovled in a rear end crash… (Ie front facing camera that stops the car before it plows into the car ahead)
I’m on the side of, “if you’re introducing a new technology, and crashes result, you’re doing something wrong.” I don’t think it matters that the vehicles are technically following the law when they stop short. So maybe look behind and slow down more gradually if someone’s following too close. I do that on the highway. I’ll use my flashers if I have to slow down for traffic, and definitely look behind me to see if someone’s going to run up on me.
Driving is a social activity. It’s not just following laws. You have to take into account what other road users are doing, and act accordingly.
Traffic laws are pretty black and white on rear end crashes. It’s always the fault of the person hitting the car ahead of them. Doesn’t matter if it’s an autonomous car following the letter of the law, an autonomous car stopping short because a fire hydrant tricked it, or a human slamming on the brakes for one reason or another. That’s a bright line rule.
What isn’t know is what’s the rate per million miles driven (or whatever the metric is) of rear end crashes for autonomous vs. human piloted lead cars. That’s what we really need to know. Not every human-human crash is reported. And not every human-computer crash is reported either. So we’d need someone way above my pay grade (i.e., took an intro to stats course in college in 1993) to work on this data.
One other thought. If,say, rear end collisions have gone up with autonomous vehicles, have other, presumably less safe/higher morbidity and mortality, crash gone down, like t-bones when red lights are run. Or peds in cross wakks
Who knows? Food for thought.