How Many Google Car Accidents?

Monthly Updated Data on Google Car Crash Reports

Key findings include:

  • February 2016: First incident caused by a Google AV reported: read more details here

  • August - November 2015: First incident reported since August, despite recording lowest milage since July.

  • October 2015: Google prototypes now surpassed the number of Google Lexus SUVs driving in Mountain View.

  • September 2015: Google significantly increased its road fleet of autonomous cars, from 28 to 48.

As of February  2016, Google has reported a total of 18 accidents involving its self-driving cars since the beginning of testing in 2010. Half of all incidents occurred in 2015. 

February 2016 saw the first incident caused by an Google AV, while its was in autonomous mode.

Since September of 2014, the company has been legally required to publicly report on all the incidents involving its autonomous vehicles if it wants to continue the testing. 

We're curating this Silk to tracks Google’s reports and visualize them in interactive maps and charts. Follow the project to get email notifications for every update.

Note: the date of incidents prior to June 2015 is approximate. Google only reported the month in which they occurred. So, for instance an incident reported for May 2014 will have 01/05/2014 as date.

Map of Google's Self-Driving Car Incidents
Page Title
Location
Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View (October 2012)Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, California, United States
Bryant Street, Palo Alto (April 2016)Bryant Street and Oregon Expressway, Palo Alto, California, United States
California Street, Mountain View (April 2015)California Street, Mountain View, California, United States
California Street, Mountain View (June 18th 2015)California Street, Mountain View, California, United States
California Street, Mountain View (June 4th 2015)California Street, Mountain View, California, United States
Castro St., Mountain View (April 2015)Castro St., Mountain View, California, United States
Central Expressway, Mountain View (May 2010)Central Expressway, Mountain View, California, United States
Charleston Road, Mountain View (August 2011)Charleston Road, Mountain View, California, United States
Clark Avenue, Mountain View (November 2nd 2015)Clark Avenue, Mountain View, California, United States
El Camino Real, Mountain View (February 2015)El Camino Real, Mountain View, California, United States
El Camino Real, Mountain View (February 2016)El Camino Real and Castro Street, Mountain View, California, United States
Grand Road, Mountain View (July 1st 2015)Grant Road, Mountain View, California, United States
Highway 101N, Belmont (March 2014)Highway 101N, Belmont, California, United States
Highway 680S, San Jose (March 2013)Highway 680S, San Jose, California, United States
Moffett exit, Mountain View (December 2012)Moffett exit, Mountain View, California, United States
Nita Avenua, Palo Alto (April 2016Nita Avenue and San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, California, United States
Phyllis Avenue, Mountain View (July 2014)Phyllis Avenue, Mountain View, California, United States
Rengstorff, Mountain View (October 2013)Rengstorff, Mountain View, California, United States
Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View (August 20th 2015)Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, California, United States
Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View (May 2015)Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, California, United States


First new Google Car Incident since August


Google's self-cars have been driving around on public roads since 2009. Before July 2015, only Mountain View and other Californian public roads. In July, they've arrived in Austin (TX). (Although no incident took place there yet and the Austin fleet currently has only 8 cars,).

In September Google started boosting its fleet, putting 48 Google cars around public streets in Austin and Mountain View. That's 20 more than those of the previous month. Despite this increase, the company managed to compile two clean, incident-free reports in September and October. In November a Google car was rear-ended at an intersection in Mountain View, but then December also passed without any new reported  incidents.

Total Cumulative Incidents per Month


Percentage of miles driven autonomously per Month


Google Cars on Public Streets per Month


Google Cars on Public Streets per Month: Austin vs. Mountain View

There's currently no breakdown of Google cars active per city, for the months July and August 2015, or for April 2016.

Google Cars on Public Streets per Month: Now More Prototypes than Lexus SUVs

There's currently no breakdown of Google cars active per city, for the months July and August 2015, or for April 2016. There were, overall in both cities 23 Lexus both in July and August, and 5 prototypes, "mainly in Mountain View" in July.

Total Incidents per 1,000,000 Mile Driven


After an incident-free January, in February the per-mile-driven incident rate rose to 7.29 per 1,000,000 miles.

To put this in perspective, Google's AV current incident rate is about 2.5 times the national rate for "property-damage-only crashes", as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (which is 3 for 1,000,000 miles). Although it's true that the NHTSA statistics might overlook minor incidents.

December was the month with the lowest amount of new miles driven since July, although it had the highest percentage of autonomous mode driving over manual mode.

Incident Rates per Miles Driven


Over Half the Accidents Occurred When a Human Driver Was Controlling the Google Car.


Twelve of the 20 total incidents occurred when the car was engaged in autonomous mode. Of the remaining, in six the car was in driving mode and in two the car was initially in auto mode, but the driver was able to take manual control of the wheel as the other vehicle approached.

This is an option that might not be possible in the future, as Google's project is that of a car "without a steering wheel or pedals".

Driving Mode Engaged in the Google Car at the Time of the Accident


All but one incident appear to be the other vehicle's fault. 15 of the 20 incidents involved another car hitting the Google car from behind.

The type of events described in the report seem to indicate that self-driving technology wasn't the cause of the crash. On the contrary, they imply that a human error on the part of the driver of the other car was the likely cause of the accident.

While Google’s AV technology seems well sophisticated for public streets after more than 2 years of testing, the car itself might still need improvements. In almost all the crashes, 15 out of 16, the Google car that reported some damage. The other car, which likely caused the accident in the first place, was damaged only in two instances.

Google Car's Rear-Ended: The Most Frequent Type of Accident 


Number of Accidents grouped by Vehicles Damaged


Latest Incidents


Some Notes about the Reports

Google publishes monthly updates on incidents involving its self-driving cars, to comply with the requirements necessary to continue its public road testing. Yet, FOIA-obtained documents report that the company might have been not so transparent in past stages of the development. 

For example, Google's safety director, Ron Medford, pushed for a favorable interpretation of California's regulations on self-driving cars. Before autonomous cars can proceed to public road testing, they need to go through some real road testing, for example on private tracks or closed public roads. Google tried to get this requirement replaced with virtual simulations only, without success.

Then, in 2012 Google's Prius passed its first government driving test on a private track, in Nevada. After this, the officials released a licence to operate on public roads, stating that the car had passed the test "almost immediately". However, FOIA documents again revealed how potentially important information had been kept private.

For example, the amount of control Google was given in choosing the conditions. Google was allowed to mapped the test route and decide under which weather conditions the car could operate. Also, it wasn't a fully-autonomous test drive: "its engineers had to take control of the car twice.

The regulations mandate that every incident, even minor, that occurs during a vehicles' public test drive must be reported. In May 2015, Google finally released its first report on all these accidents. Although, again, Google had first lobbied to limit the amount of events it had to publicly report. For example, it suggested reporting to only bigger incidents. Or excluding those where the driver disengaged the self-driving mode as the incident approached. The California Department of Motor Vehicles rejected these claims. But it never publicly released these reports nor did it oblige Google to do so. Only after an AP investigations on self-driving car incidents, did Google publicly reveal data on its testing.

Made with Silk

Silk is a place to explore the world through data. Silk displays data as beautiful interactive charts, maps and web pages. Create your own free Silk now.