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Google’s self-driving cars have been involved in another crash

Luke Johnson


Google driverless car

Google’s self-driving cars have been at it again, getting involved in their 13th road accident since 2009.

Just days after the search giant sung the praises of the cars’ safety records during Google I/O, the autonomous vehicles have been involved in a couple of minor fender-benders.

According to Google, however, these accidents are not a sign of technical issues, simply human error highlighting the future potential of self-driving cars.

The Nexus 6 maker has revealed that one of its driverless cars was rear-ended while waiting at traffic lights in Mountain View, California, this week. This is the second such incident in a matter of days.

“That’s two incidents just in the last week where a driver rear-ended us while we were completely stopped at a light!” Google revealed in an official statement.

The company added: “That brings the tally to 13 minor fender-benders in more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving—and still, not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.”

Related: Driverless Cars: Everything you need to know

Despite the slightly blemished incident record, Google has remained insistent that its cars have not been responsible for any of the accidents caused.

Would you trust a self-driving car with your safety? Let us know via the comments section below.


June 7, 2015, 2:32 pm

“That’s two incidents just in the last week where a driver rear-ended us while we were completely stopped at a light!”
Hmm. Is that maybe because they stopped sharply with someone close behind? Or because they were slow/hesitant getting away when they changed? We should be told.


June 7, 2015, 3:41 pm

Or just maybe because some people are not paying attention to the road. How can slow or hesitant to drive away cause a rear end crash unless the driver behind accelerates his car into the one in front or drives so fast he/she expects the car in front they are approaching will accelerate away from the lights at mach 3 because he/she drives like a nutter. In fact the driver behind probably saw no driver in the google cars seat and freaked out.

If there were really bad accidents or accidents that were clearly the fault of the google car then we would know about it by now.


June 7, 2015, 5:45 pm

Or maybe the light was green?


June 7, 2015, 8:40 pm

That does not matter, if you are rear ended then the other driver is at fault regardless


June 7, 2015, 8:46 pm

Not always. Doing 30mph on the motorway, "crash-for-cash" style slamming on the brakes for no reason.

Hesitant drivers who needlessly stop at the entry to an empty roundabout are a pet hate of mine. Not so sure who'd be to blame there for a rear-ender, but certainly you get marked down in the driving test for such hesitancy, presumably because it engenders accidents. So if driverless cars drive in such an overly cautious and hesitant manner, stopping unexpectedly and unnecessarily and hence they rack up an unusually high proportion of rear-end accidents, then it will get interesting.


June 7, 2015, 9:31 pm

In the 'crash-for-cash' scenario you are indeed correct, however almost every other instance would be the fault of the driver behind, due to not allowing enough distance to stop.
Not all drivers can be as confident as you or I at roundabouts and whilst I agree that it can be frustrating we must always be aware of that possibility and again, leave enough space to avoid contact.


June 7, 2015, 10:15 pm

I'm more curious to know how things will stand with driverless cars. If the state of the art is limited to driving like a hesitant, insecure driver, I doubt we will feel forgiving of their lack of "confidence" when the rear-enders start to mount up.

Ayub Job

June 8, 2015, 9:32 am

Self-driving car will be really safe when everybody is using it. As long as there is a manual driver out there, anything can happen.


June 8, 2015, 10:41 am

Twice in a week just seemed excessive and had me wondering whether there was a common factor involved, that was all.
However, I couldn't possibly agree that 'we would all know' if Google's car was at fault. That's very trusting of a giant organisation.


June 8, 2015, 1:14 pm

You should always keep enough distance from the car in front to stop even if they slam on the brakes. There are no excuses.
And the example at the roundable is ridiculous - you have just driven into the car in front because you weren't paying attention to what they were doing. It is always your fault in that situation. You are basically saying "the person in the car in front is at fault for not doing what I thought they would do, it's not my fault for not paying attention to what they were actually doing and ploughing into them."
My pet hate is people who drive too close (or cut in front of me), don't indicate, hog the middle lane, the type of things against the rules of the road.
But unlike you, I will assume the driverless car will obey the rules of the road consistently, far more than most people do.


June 8, 2015, 1:17 pm

It might be very trusting but not necessarily untrue either. I can give what could be a likely common factor - someone using a mobile phone.


June 8, 2015, 4:10 pm

I assume they have passed the driving test:


In my original post I speculated about what would happen if driverless cars drove with undue hesitancy, for example waiting at junctions (roundabouts) when it is clear to go. As the link above shows, these driving faults would score against you in the driving test, with good reason - they are dangerous (that is what it says).

The speculation is appropriate because all these driving faults are likely to increase the risk of rear end shunts, which is precisely what Google car are reported to be suffering. Perchance, are Google cars driving in such a manner?

You can pontificate all you like. I suggest you get off your high horse and engage with the substance of the argument instead.


June 8, 2015, 5:09 pm

Im just thinking there is always someone somewhere with a mobile phone camera and there will be much attention on these things for people waiting to see if there will be a fail and report it first. Im sure accidents will be logged by insurance companies and the police. I do however understand these big organisations may have a way of making people look the other way.

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