Currently, one of the hottest topics discussed in the world of technology is the implementation of autonomous vehicles and whether or not they will be safer to use than typical cars. When considering a case of this magnitude, the best way is to lay out the pros and cons of the situation. So let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of self-driving cars.
On the one hand, one of the more popular pros to autonomous vehicles being safer is recognizing that a majority of most automobile accidents occur as a result of human error. In Huffington Posts’ article on the safety of autonomous vehicles, they talk about the studies that show that as many as 8,000 deaths per year are caused by teenage drivers. Google’s Self-Driving Car program, now called Waymo, logged in more than two million miles on United States’ roads and was faulted in only one accident, which gave its cars the lowest at-fault rate of any driver class currently on the road. This meant it was ten times lower than the safest demographic of human drivers which are the ages of 60-69 and 40 times lower than new drivers. Based on this information alone, one would be inclined to believe that self-driving cars would be much safer than actual humans. However, there are many other things to consider.
With self-driving cars operated by computers or artificial intelligence, there are many factors to consider. Naturally, computers do crash at some point, and this can cause fear to the consumers who may question the likelihood of a self-driving car causing a major accident. Given that these self-driving cars would be operating using complicated algorithms, this would allow them to make more careful decisions while on the road thus making them safer as they would be adhering to driving laws to the letter. In that same breath, one must consider that most of these self-driving cars would potentially have a general understanding of driving laws and not take into consideration some of the more particular rules set in different states. One such example is that different states have varied laws regarding the legality of turning at a red light. A computer may have difficulty determining when these specific laws are and or are not in place. Ad Age also brings up an interesting point of people hacking the computers as that is an inevitable reality to examine.
Reflecting on these points dealing with the possible faults with the computer, one must also remember that with all the technology and effort being poured into these self-driving cars, while glitches are sure to be an issue, they are also much less likely to happen. Also while it is not exactly clear as to how many lives autonomous vehicles can save, with all the research and statistics available on the matter, it is clear that there is much more risk when having a human driver taking control. With all that in mind, it does look like implementing self-driving cars could lead to roads that will feel, and are, much safer.