New Jersey residents who stay abreast of developments in the technology sector may know that several car manufacturers have vowed to introduce a fully autonomous vehicle within the next five years. Proponents of the technology claim that self-driving cars will virtually eliminate traffic accident injuries and deaths, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety came to a different conclusion after scrutinizing more than 5,000 accident reports.

After studying data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, IIHS researchers determined that self-driving cars would reduce accidents by about a third. Virtually all of the accidents studied involved some sort of human error, so the researchers sorted the various driver mistakes into five categories. They then concluded that autonomous technology could only prevent accidents caused by impairment or perception errors.

In order to reduce accident rates further, IIHS researchers say that self-driving systems should be programmed to prioritize safety over convenience and speed. If this is not done, the IIHS believes that autonomous vehicles will be prone to the same kind of poor decision-making as human drivers. The first fatal accident involving a self-driving car brought attention to the limitations of the technology. An autonomous SUV being evaluated in Arizona noticed a 49-year-old female pedestrian, but it did not anticipate that she would step into the roadway to cross the street.

Fully autonomous vehicles may still be several years away, but cameras, sensors and data recorders are already being fitted to many of the cars, pickup trucks and SUVs sold in the United States. When their clients have been injured in motor vehicle accidents and the driver responsible was behind the wheel of a car equipped with this kind of technology, experienced personal injury attorneys could seek to obtain the electronic information stored under its hood. This data could reveal how fast the car was traveling when it crashed and what its driver did to avoid a collision.