How Will Self-Driving Cars Affect Bicyclists?

By Peter DePaolis

car and bike wreckWhen self-driving cars became a serious topic of interest, we wrote about what it would mean for the safety of other drivers on the road. Experts predict many exciting things for the future of driverless cars. For one, they are projected to decrease the number of car accidents, increase fuel efficiency and, in the long term, decrease the overall number of vehicles on the road. Now, cyclists are beginning to ask what this means for their safety when they venture out onto the road.

What We Can Assume for Self-Driving Cars

Most tend to agree that while we can’t be sure exactly what the future holds for cyclists and self-driving cars, we can be optimistic. Experts do not expect the number of cyclists on the road to decrease very much, given that even fully autonomous vehicles cannot be a substitute for the joys and physical benefits associated with cycling. However, the technology for self-driving cars will likely include:

  • Cameras on all sides of the vehicle
  • Image recognition
  • Radar
  • Short range communication between vehicles and (hopefully) bicycles
  • Automatic brakes

It is safe to say driverless cars will be programmed to treat cyclists with more care than your average human driver. That said, it is likely the number of drivers who cut cyclists off, strike them, intimidate them, follow at unsafe distances, unskilled drivers, aggressive and distracted drivers will decrease (hopefully by a substantial amount).

Will a Lack of Human Intuition Create a Safety Hazard

However, we are still not quite at the point where autonomous vehicle technology is perfect. In the meantime, the biggest question comes down to whether you can program instinct and human intuition into a machine. A prime example of this involves an incident in February when a bus made an unexpected turn that was not considered a predictable maneuver for a smart car, which crashed and killed its driver.

Until the software is perfected, bicyclists should be cautious around autonomous vehicles and ride predictably. The ability to anticipate the intentions of other drivers, cyclists and pedestrian on the road is ultimately what distinguishes humans as the better driver—for now.

Speak with a Northern Virginia Bicycle Accident Attorney

The Northern Virginia personal injury attorneys at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P. fight to protect the rights of those injured in bicycle accidents. If you would like to speak to one of our experienced attorney, contact us today and we can discuss your case.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.