Kamaz Truck Driver Show Us Why Autonomous Cars Aren't Quite There Yet

If someone were to make a quick inventory of the crash videos on the Internet, you shouldn't be surprised if half of them came from Russia. It is a big country after all, but there are others even larger. There has to be another explanation.
Kamaz truck incident 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
And there is. The real reason we see so many footages of things going wrong on the Russian streets is purely mathematic, nothing more. If other countries had the same percentage of drivers using dashcams as there are in Russia, the landscape of spectacular crashes would be a lot more diverse. As things stand, it's easy to imagine everybody's a terrible driver over there, though, and there are countless pieces of evidence to be found on the world wide web.

Take this one right here for example. A truck coming on the opposite lane decides it's not going to wait like all the others to make a left turn, so it just goes across cutting off the filming car and forcing it to brake and veer left in order to avoid a monster crash. How many times have we seen this kind of reckless, impatient drivers cause accidents or, at least, scare the living crap out of other road users? I'll tell you: way too many times.

But give the video another look and, this time, try to ignore its original title ("Why would you do that?" - which, at first, I thought was meant at the Nissan Cube driving in front of the truck, as in "why would you buy a car like that?") and the pre-drawn conclusion that all truck drivers are idiots. Especially those from Russia. Seeing the incident with different eyes allows us to also see what actually happened.

Coming out of the bend, the two cars driving in front of the Kamaz (the black Suzuki Vitara and the white Nissan Cube) stop for a left-hand turn. The dump truck driver notices that late and slams on his brakes. There is no sound, but you can see the tire marks he leaves on the road's surface. Weighing a few good tons (it's hard to tell if it was loaded or not) and probably having unserviced and undersized brakes, the truck couldn't have stopped in time even with divine intervention. The crash would have probably annihilated the Nissan Cube, which isn't a bad thing in itself if it didn't have people in it as well.

Well, the Kamaz truck driver is still at fault, but at least he made the right decision - seeing that the camera car had plenty of time to react and brake, he opted to avoid the collision by going left. Would an autonomous car do that? Frankly, at this point, any answer to that question is purely speculative. We have absolutely no idea how a self-driving vehicle would react in a similar situation. There's no doubt they will eventually save a lot of lives, but we're not quite there yet. We're on our way, though.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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