A recent accident involving self-driving cars has once again put this new technology in the news.

Last month, an Arizona driver turned left across three lances of traffic just as the light was turning from green to yellow. According to a report from the Tempe, Ariz., Police Department, the first two lanes were backed up with cars, and the driver crossed them at a speed of about 20 mph. Then, she approached the third lane when a self-driving Uber SUV came through the intersection, hitting the driver's blind spot at exactly the same time.

The driver struck the Uber SUV, which then hit a traffic pole. The Uber SUV flipped on its side and collided with two other cars before coming to a stop.

No one was hurt; however, the driver is being faulted for failing to yield to oncoming traffic. (It's worth noting that one bystander gave a statement to the police which incriminates the Uber SUV for speeding up to make the traffic light.)

This whole situation brings a big safety concern for self-driving cars: their inability to respond to human errors.

Risk Analyst Rick Gorvett says the conventional wisdom (not yet backed up by a lot of actual data) is that self-driving vehicles will help reduce the human error that is the cause of the vast majority (90 percent or more) of accidents. In other words, automation will mean fewer accidents, but the accidents that do occur will more likely be the fault of machine, not man.

This is just one of the reasons why self-driving cars are such an unknown for insurance companies. Read more about how self-driving cars could affect the industry here.

Sources: The Washington Post, We know more about that crash involving Uber’s self-driving car | NPR.org, Self-Driving Cars Raise Questions About Who Carries Insurance

Photo credit: Flickr, smoothgroover22
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