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Self-driving cars are having trouble seeing bicycles…

Self-driving cars are having trouble seeing bicycles…
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

It’s hard enough getting people who drive cars to share the road with bicyclists. How in the world will we convince computers that drive cars to share the road?

Although we hope that self-driving cars will eventually reduce the number of auto accidents in SC, they are shaping up to be just as dangerous to bicyclists as human drivers.

Cars and bicycles already have a testy relationship – more than 800 bicyclists are killed each year in crashes with automobiles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The reasons are obvious: Few U.S. roadways have designated bike lanes. Most drivers receive a negligible amount of training on how to share the road with cyclists. And, most importantly, people are not looking for bicycles when they are driving…


Theoretically, self-driving cars can help solve these problems. But autonomous vehicles are not very good at recognizing bicycles. The technology is also terrible at determining which way a bike is moving and predicting what a cyclist might do next.

Autonomous cars are getting better and better at recognizing other automobiles, pedestrians, and even animals such as deer darting across the highway. But bikes present a special challenge.

Cars are basically large chunks of steel that can move in limited ways – if you understand how cars work, it’s not difficult to predict their movements. Bikes, on the other hand, are much smaller and maneuverable. They can swerve and dart and move in less predictable ways.

What’s the Answer?

One proposed solution put forth by Ford, Tome Software, and Trek Bicycle is to equip all bicycles on the road with technology that would allow them to communicate wirelessly with automobiles on the road. The technology would be attached to either the rider or the bike, and it would alert drivers to nearby bicycles.

Another company, Waymo, is taking a different, more straightforward approach – it is improving the self-driving technology by “training” automated vehicles to better detect and respond to bicycles on their own, with no need for extra wireless devices worn by cyclists.

Who Pays if a Self-Driving Car Crashes into a Bicycle?

For now, the big question in any SC accident involving a self-driving car is: Who is at fault? If a vehicle hits a bicycle through no fault of the bike rider, someone is responsible for the crash and the damages that result from it.

If the car was in self-driving mode when the accident occurred, who is to blame? Is the driver at fault? Or the car?

What does it even mean if the vehicle is at fault? Is the car manufacturer liable? The company that designed the self-driving software? Or the individual programmer?

There are a lot of unanswered questions so far, but one thing is for certain – insurance companies will use the uncertainty to try to get out of paying claims.


If you were hit by a car or other vehicle while on your bicycle, your Myrtle Beach bicycle accident attorney at Axelrod and Associates will investigate your case, gather the evidence that you need, negotiate maximum compensation from the insurance company, and take them to trial when they do not pay what you are entitled to.

Schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team today. Call us at 843-916-9300 or fill out our contact form to set up a free initial consultation about your case.

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