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List of self-driving car fatalities

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Since 2013, when self-driving cars first began appearing in large numbers on public roadways,[1] a primary goal of manufacturers has been to create an autonomous car system that is clearly and demonstrably safer than an average human-controlled car. Whether that will be possible in the real world without sacrificing even more human lives is a controversial topic, especially in light of accidents and fatalities resulting from system glitches.[2]

There are currently five levels of automated driving, of which two are considered autonomous (or self) driving (Level 4 and Level 5). Tesla Autopilot is a Level 2 automated driving system.

One of the key metrics for comparing the safety levels for autonomously controlled car systems versus human controlled car systems is the number of fatalities per 100,000,000 miles (160,000,000 kilometres) driven. Cars driven under traditional human control are currently involved in approximately 1.18 fatalities for every 100,000,000 mi (160,000,000 km) driven.[3] According to many automotive safety experts, much more data is yet required before any such clear and demonstrably higher levels of safety can be convincingly provided.[3][4]

To demonstrate reliability in terms of fatalities and injuries, autonomous vehicles have to be driven hundreds of millions more miles in full autonomous mode.[5] As of February 2018, autonomous vehicles from Waymo (the Google Self-Driving Car Project) have covered 5 million miles (8 million kilometres) with the presence of a human driver who monitors and overrides the autonomous mode to improve safety.[6] According to reports, human intervention for autonomous vehicles was needed every 13 to 5,600 miles (21 to 9,000 km) on average.[7]

On December 20, 2018, Uber returned self-driving cars to the roads in public testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, following the pedestrian fatality on March 18. Uber said that it received authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Uber said that it was also pursuing deploying cars on roads in San Francisco, California and Toronto, Ontario.[8][9]

The NTSB is currently still investigating accidents caused by Tesla's Autopilot.[10]

Level 2 fatalities[edit]

Level 2 is considered automated driving, but not autonomous driving. A Level 2 driving system expects a driver to be fully aware at all times of the driving and traffic situation and be ready to take over any moment.[11] As of September 19, 2019, there are five (5) confirmed Level 2 fatalities, four of which involved Tesla's Autopilot and one involved one of Uber's experimental robotaxis.[12]

List of known automated driving system car fatalities (occurring while automated driving-system acknowledged to have been engaged)
Date Incident no. Country City State/county/province No. of fatalities System manufacturer Vehicle Type Victim gender Victim role
20 January 2016 1 China Handan Hebei 1 Tesla (Autopilot) Model S [13] Male Driver[14][15]
7 May 2016 2 United States of America (USA) Williston Florida 1 Tesla (Autopilot) Model S[16] Male Driver[17][18]
18 March 2018 3 United States of America (USA) Tempe Arizona 1 Uber 'Refitted Volvo' [16] Female Pedestrian[19]
23 March 2018 4 United States of America (USA) Mountain View California 1 Tesla (Autopilot) Model X[16] Male Driver[20]
1 March 2019 5 United States of America (USA) Delray Beach Florida 1 Tesla (Autopilot) Model 3 Male Driver[21]


  1. "Vislab, University of Parma, Italy - Public Road Urban Driverless-Car Test 2013 - World premiere of BRAiVE". Archived from the original on 2015-09-02. Retrieved 2018-04-02. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. "Are Uber's autonomous vehicles safe?".
  3. 3.0 3.1 McArdle, Megan (March 20, 2018). "Opinion | How safe are driverless cars? Unfortunately, it's too soon to tell". The Washington Post. Fred Ryan. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  4. Noland, David (October 14, 2016). "How safe is Tesla Autopilot? A look at the statistics". The Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Publishing Society. Green Car Reports. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  5. Kalra, Nidhi; Paddock, Susan M. (April 12, 2016). "Driving to Safety: How Many Miles of Driving Would It Take to Demonstrate Autonomous Vehicle Reliability?" (PDF). Rand Corporation. doi:10.7249/RR1478. ISBN 9780833095299. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  6. Waymo Team (February 28, 2018). "Waymo reaches 5 million self-driven miles". medium.com. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  7. Bowden, John (March 23, 2018). "Uber's self-driving cars in Arizona averaged only 13 miles without intervention prior to crash". TheHill. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  8. "Uber Puts First Self-Driving Car Back on the Road Since Death". Transport Topics. December 22, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  9. Laris, Michael (December 20, 2018). "Nine months after deadly crash, Uber is testing self-driving cars again in Pittsburgh". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  10. "Tesla autopilot was engaged for nearly 14 minutes before 2018 California crash, NTSB says". CNBC. 2019-09-03. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  11. "Automated Vehicles for Safety Overview". NHTSA. June 18, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  12. "Tesla Fatalities Dataset". Google Dataset Search. August 8, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  13. Boudette, Neal (2016-09-14). "Autopilot Cited in Death of Chinese Tesla Driver". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  14. Horwitz, Josh; Timmons, Heather (September 20, 2016). "The scary similarities between Tesla's (TSLA) deadly autopilot crashes". Quartz. Atlantic Media. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  15. Felton, Ryan (February 27, 2018). "Two Years On, A Father Is Still Fighting Tesla Over Autopilot And His Son's Fatal Crash". Jalopnik. Gizmodo Media Group. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Joseph, Yonette (2018-04-29). "Briton Who Drove Tesla on Autopilot From Passenger Seat Is Barred From Road". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  17. Yadron, Danny; Tynan, Dan (June 30, 2016). "Tesla driver dies in first fatal crash while using autopilot mode". The Guardian. San Francisco: Guardian Media Group. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  18. Vlasic, Bill; Boudette, Neal E. (June 30, 2016). "Self-Driving Tesla Was Involved in Fatal Crash, U.S. Says". The New York Times. Detroit: A.G. Sulzberger. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  19. Lubben, Alex (March 19, 2018). "Self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian as human safety driver watched". Vice News. Vice Media. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  20. Green, Jason (March 30, 2018). "Tesla: Autopilot was on during deadly Mountain View crash". The Mercury News. Palo Alto. ISSN 0747-2099. OCLC 145122249. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  21. [1]

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