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Goody two-shoes driverless cars get no respect in traffic

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It's not your imagination — people can be bad drivers.

Self-driving cars designed to reduce accidents on the road are racking up a crash rate double that of human drivers because the self-driving vehicles obey traffic laws such as speed limits all the time while their human counterparts do not.

“It's a constant debate inside our group,” Raj Rajkumar, co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg. “And we have basically decided to stick to the speed limit. But when you go out and drive the speed limit on the highway, pretty much everybody on the road is just zipping past you. And I would be one of those people.”

Google Inc. cars have been in 17 minor crashes in 2 million miles of testing and account for most of the reported accidents, according to a study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But these accidents are never their fault as the self-driving cars are usually hit from behind by inattentive or aggressive human drivers, according to the study.

The company is testing the self-driving cars mainly in California, where accidents involving these cars must be reported. The state last week published proposed rules requiring a licensed operator to be present inside the vehicle and capable of taking control in the event of a technology failure or other emergency — much to the chagrin of Google, which developed a model with no steering wheel and gas pedal as part of its plans to develop fully driverless vehicles. The company said it was “gravely disappointed” by the proposed rules, which will be the subject of public hearings in January and February.