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Driverless Car Accident-Free? Mostly True

Mar 27, 2013

Credit PolitiFact

When former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told the recent Conservative Political Action Conference -- CPAC -- that driverless cars being tested have driven 300,000 accident-free miles, he was mostly accurate.

PolitiFact heard about that statement delivered during a speech about the technological superiority of the United States and decided to check it out.

And, PolitiFact's Angie Holan said they found the statement to be mostly true.

"Google, the technology company we all know, has fitted out a car with sensors and it integrates its mapping technology and this car has gone 300,000 miles -- Google says it's now at 500,000 miles. We did quibble with Jeb Bush's statement that it hasn't had a single accident because we found two accidents. In one case a car was rear-ended. Usually that's the other driver's fault. And, in another case Google said that a human being was driving the Google car -- the Google car wasn't on it's automatic pilot setting."

In another driving-related fact check, PolitiFact found that Republican Florida State Representative Doug Holder, of Venice, had his numbers wrong when he said during a recent committee hearing that 25 percent of all automobile accidents are caused by texting while driving.

He was speaking in favor of a law that would penalize drivers who text or email behind the wheel.

Holan said, however, that Holder's number is too high.

"We rated this one mostly false," Holan said.  "Now, he would have been right if he had said, "caused by using cell phones during driving," but that includes people who are talking on the phone. Or if he had said "distracted driving" -- people who aren't paying attention. But the texting number is much lower than that. The texting number is a part of that overall universe of distracted driving."

Holder quickly admitted his error. Holan said he explained he was so passionate about this issue, to get this bill passed to ban texting while driving, that he didn't look at his notes and that he did know that it was distracted driving that causes 25 percent of automobile accidents.