Academics caution that driverless cars may increase road accidents

Far from ushering in a bold new era of reduced road accidents some researchers are now cautioning that the much hyped driverless car revolution may actually increase collisions as computers lack the ‘predictive experience’ of experienced drivers.

Academics at the University of Michigan question claims that autonomous vehicles will match up to human drivers, pointing out that such vehicles will lack key characteristics, such as eye contact and gestures between drivers, which may limit their effectiveness.

Around 80 per cent of collisions are not attributable to motorists, rendering efficiency of the driver a moot point, whilst the increased volume of complex components packed within a driverless car renders it more prone to electronics failure.

In their paper the academics said: “It is not a foregone conclusion that a self-driving vehicle would ever perform more safely than an experienced, middle-aged driver,” the paper said. “During the transition period when conventional and self-driving vehicles would share the road, safety might actually worsen.”

The UK government is pressing ahead with a trial of the technology in four locations around the country.

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