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Self-driving cars still not prepared to stop all crashes

While many in Missouri are excited about the potential for self-driving vehicles to eliminate human error and make the roads safer, others are concerned about the potential downsides of new vehicle technologies. For example, in one crash involving a Tesla vehicle with Autopilot engaged, the car slammed into a police car and fire truck parked with lights running and blocking an upcoming lane. Of course, Tesla has warned against relying on Autopilot for autonomous driving, saying that the feature is currently intended to help improve driver safety, not replace the role of a human driver.

Nevertheless, the crash represents a serious technical concern for scientists and manufacturers involved in developing self-driving technologies. When the car hit the back of the fire truck, no one was injured. However, federal officials and researchers noted that the problem is not limited to Tesla's system. Various autonomous driving systems have had difficulties recognizing parked vehicles ahead, especially in a place where they may not be expected to be. The software is far better at clearly and accurately recognizing moving vehicles ahead and obstacles centered in the lane.

Automated technologies are already reducing accidents, however. Automatic emergency braking and lane diversion warnings have been found to significantly reduce accidents, especially rear-end crashes and serious incidents involving injuries. However, the technology is not complete, yet a troubling number of human drivers seem to be content to turn their attention away from the road and rely on the as-yet undeveloped autonomous systems to navigate the roadways. This can present an increased danger to others on the road.

Of course, most car accidents continue to be caused by human errors or serious driver negligence. People who have been injured in a crash might turn to a personal injury lawyer to help them pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

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