Research & Discoveries (R&D): Waymo Reduces Crash Rates Compared to Human Drivers Over 7+ Million AV Miles

Academics and experts around the world are studying how AVs can improve safety, enhance mobility, and create new economic opportunities, among other transformative benefits. AVIA’s Research & Discoveries (R&D) Series highlights these reports’ findings about how AVs can create a safer and more mobile world.

Need To Know (NTK): Waymo Is Reducing Crash Rates on U.S. Roads
After analyzing over 7 million rider-only miles (i.e. no human driver behind the wheel), new data demonstrates that the Waymo Driver significantly outperforms comparable human benchmarks for roadway safety. 

Based on the findings, compared to human benchmarks, the Waymo Driver demonstrated:

Over the 7.1 million miles Waymo drove in Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, there were an estimated 17 fewer injuries and 20 fewer police-reported crashes compared to if human drivers with the benchmark crash rate had driven the same distance in the areas Waymo operates.

This performance study marks the first time overall crash rates have been collected using only data from AV operations without a human observer present. Unlike previous analyses, this study comprehensively includes all crashes, regardless of the Waymo vehicle’s role in the crash. Furthermore, it utilizes publicly available data so that researchers can replicate it. As it stands, researchers are already finding Waymo’s analyses helpful in contextualizing AV safety:

These reports represent a good-faith effort by Waymo to evaluate how the safety of its [autonomous driving system] compares with the safety of human driving…The results are encouraging and represent one step in our evolving understanding of ADS safety.” – David Zuby, chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

This provides the strongest evidence I’ve seen yet that ADS have lower crash rates than humans.” – Carol Flannagan, a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

New data compiled from over seven million Waymo Driver miles makes it clear that autonomous vehicles are already measurably helping to improve the unsafe status quo on American roads.” – Jeff Farrah, CEO of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association

As Waymo discusses in the study, these crash rates represent just a few metrics among many that can evaluate the safety performance of AVs. Waymo has committed to developing a rigorous and extensive compilation of research to help quantify the safety benefits of AVs. With the publication of Waymo’s latest study, its comprehensive body of publicly available research now spans 20+ safety papers – all of which help enhance transparency and enable the community of researchers, regulators, and academics studying AV safety to advance the field.