Are Self Driving Vehicles the Answer to Safer Roads?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, human error, such as drunk driving, speeding, and distraction, accounts for approximately 94% of all motor vehicle accidents. With these statistics, it’s no wonder we are approaching an era of self-driving vehicles. But, are these self-driving vehicles really as safe as human-driven vehicles?
In a recent report, the RAND Corporation, a research firm, stated “vehicles would have to be driven hundreds of millions of miles and sometimes hundreds of billions of miles to demonstrate their safety in terms of fatalities and injuries.” The RAND Corporation is not the only one questioning the reliability of these self-driving vehicles. According to a Vox poll, more Americans are skeptical about the prospect of self-driving vehicles than they are excited about them.
Contrary to popular belief, these self-driving vehicles are not accident proof. In fact, the first U.S. fatality using self-driving technology took place in May of this year, when the driver of a Tesla S sports car, operating the vehicle’s automated driving system, died after crashing into the side of a tractor-trailer rig. After this tragic incident, Tesla stated “neither the driver nor the Autopilot noticed the white side of the trailer, which was perpendicular to the Model S, against the brightly lit sky, and neither applied the brakes.”
Critics argue that too many driving scenarios will remain unsolved. A recent Forbes article, for example, points to left-hand turns in heavy traffic, adverse weather conditions, changes in road surfaces, and hand gestures as open technical questions for which solutions “might be a very long way away.”
There is no doubt that self-driving cars are a thing of the future. However, the question remains: are safer roadways a thing of the future?
To be determined. . .