Who really is responsible for car accidents? The driver, the owners of the vehicles, the manufacturers, the department of transportation, or others? One common catch-all thought is called the 94% solution. This thought states that 94% of all car accidents are due to driver error.
Promoters of self-driving vehicles use this thought to justify switching to autonomous vehicles. The promoters argue that self-driving vehicles don’t:
- Drive while intoxicated
- Drive while distracted
- Drive while tired
- Speed or intentionally violate traffic laws
Manufacturers argue that driver mistakes cause crashes and not defective car parts.
Traffic safety campaigns are based on an inaccurate assumption
According to StreetsBlog, the 94% solution is false. Car accidents on Chicago roads, throughout Illinois, and across the nation are due to many factors. Each car accident is unique. The Network Director for Vision Zero says her organization is working on a social media campaign to rebut the 94% concept because it’s preventing local and state safety agencies and organizations from focusing on better solutions such as improving roadway design.
How did the 94% claim start?
The main source for the claim is the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, which was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Part of the problem with the survey is that it focused on the last event/last failure to cause the accident which tends to be driver error – when earlier events are also strong accident factors, too.
Another concern is that the use of the statistic is promoted by various agencies and organizations:
- Former US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told Fox Business Network in January 2018, that “94 percent of accidents occur because of human error.” “Last year, she used the false statistic to advocate autonomous vehicles.”
- The 94% figure was also used by the “national organization of state DOTs, also known as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official” in a YouTube video and on Facebook.
- “NHTSA President Jack Danielson defied his own agency’s caution about using the 94 percent statistic, telling members of Congress, ‘We do know that over 90 percent of serious crashes are due to human choice and error.’”
Vision Zero is working to address the improper reliance on the statistic in several ways. For example, the organization is asking agencies to explain the use of 94% claim and is challenging their responses.
Isn’t human error a leading cause of car accidents?
Yes – which Vision Zero does understand. The organization is concerned, though, that overreliance on the number is preventing traffic safety agencies from taking the necessary road design and engineering steps that could either prevent the car accidents, or at least reduce the chances of serious injury or death in a crash.
At Gainsberg Law P.C., our Chicago injury lawyers understand why accidents happen and who is responsible. We file claims against the drivers. When necessary, we also file claims against owners, manufacturers, state and local traffic agencies, and other responsible parties. We demand compensation for all your damages including your medical bills, lost income, physical pain, emotional suffering, disfigurement, and property damages. To make an appointment with an experienced and respected car accident lawyer, call us at 312.600.9585 or fill out our contact form.