Are Self-Driving Cars Safe?
Many people saw the story in Arizona a few weeks ago about a self-driving car fatally striking a pedestrian while they were crossing the street outside of a crosswalk. Even though the car had a driver, who was employed by the ride-sharing service Uber, he was unable to stop before hitting the pedestrian. This has not only caused Uber to suspend its autonomous vehicle program, but it has also caused the nation to ask the question: Are self-driving cars safe?
The fact that nearly 90% of car accidents can be attributed to human error is troubling, to say the least. If human error was removed, in two years, as many lives would be spared from car accidents as this nation lost in the Vietnam War. The real question is, “Will self-driving cars make roadways safer?”
Human vs. Automated Drivers
When most people think self-driving cars are safer than people behind the wheel because automated cars can’t do things like have road rage, feel tired, get drunk, or not pay attention. But, automated cars also have complicated technology that keeps the car from leaving its lane, hitting pedestrians, and running red lights. How often does the technology fail? Would the failures in technology be less than human error? That seems to be the question that has delayed the rollout of self-driving vehicles.
One area where human drivers are far superior to automated drivers is in the area of foresight. Self-driving cars drive moment to moment and take each obstacle at the moment that it is presented. Humans have the ability to look ahead and anticipate what is going to happen, literally, down the road.
When weighing the pros and cons of automated cars compared to cars operated by people, it seems the most logical and safest way to go about it would be to have a mixture of the two. Until self-driving cars can operate without error and can possess some kind of foresight, they will need to rely on a human operator to sit behind the wheel and take over if needed.
The Schafer Law Office Take
While the thought of sitting back and enjoying a book or taking a nap during a long road trip while the car does all of the driving sounds amazing, it’s just not plausible. At this point, self-driving cars should just be used as a tool to aid humans in cutting back on the errors that they make while driving. While this may change with more efficient technology, humans, for now, will have to remain in control behind the wheel and never lose attention.