When some of us think of self-driving cars, there is an element of concern over safety. The feeling that we are surrendering control of a vehicle might make some drivers feel as if they are at an increased risk for an accident. However, the opposite is actually true. In fact, between 2014 and 2018, an Axios study found that only 38 incidents occurred with driverless cars while in motion, and 37 of them were caused by humans, not by the autonomous vehicle.
According to the CDC, in the U.S. alone over 33,000 people perish annually in auto accidents. Of all fatal accidents that occur each year, over 80% were caused by driver error. So the next time you feel as if your judgement and the judgement of other drivers on the road is superior and preferred over that of an autonomous car, you may want to think twice.
Safety & Efficiency
Driverless cars have boundless advantages over human drivers. They never get tired, they can’t drive under the influence, they’re programmed to observe speed limits and laws, and they prioritize safety above all else. They can’t get distracted by checking their phone and their many sensors ensure that they never take their eyes off the road and surroundings for even a second.
The advantages have tremendous potential as technology advances and more vehicles on the road become driverless. Self-driving cars have the potential to improve traffic flow and congestion, allowing the vehicles to operate seamlessly together while occupants can focus on other tasks as their car maneuvers safely down the road, avoiding collisions.
And we can’t forget the unintended advantages to fully transitioning over to autonomous vehicles. The elderly and people who live with disabilities such as blindness or other physical impairments that relegated them to public transport or reliance on other drivers will now have some of their independence restored with the ability to move around more freely. People will also be able to make use of their commute time to accomplish other tasks that they previously could not due to safety concerns or distraction from the road. Finally, fewer accidents mean insurance rates should drop dramatically.
If all of this sounds too far in the future to impact you, it’s important to remember that there are already some vehicles on the road with at least some form of self-driving capabilities. From Tesla’s autopilot feature to Ford Fiesta’s self-parking function, our vehicles are quickly gaining independence of their drivers and, hopefully, saving lives in the process.