We might all be riding in self-driving cars within the next 20 years, which could be good news for road safety. Indeed, a large percentage of car accident are caused by smartphones, alcohol consumption, speeding, fatigue, distracted driving and other factors, but these issues will not be a problem in the era of automated cars. What else might the future look like with self-driving cars?
According to many engineers, self-driving automobiles will result in safer and more efficient transportation. Automated vehicles will travel closer together, which will allow more vehicles to fit on the roadways and help traffic flow more efficiently. Cars would also get better gas mileage because their driving could be controlled for better fuel efficiency.
However, the best element of self-driving cars from a car accident prevention perspective is the fact that they would be faster and better at avoiding collisions than people. This would reduce instances of crashes and their resulting injuries and deaths.
At the moment self-driving cars are not advanced enough to achieve these benefits, as this will require additional computing power, testing and data. For example, at the moment, the self-driving vehicles utilize GPS positioning to know where they are, and this might not be accurate by several meters. Furthermore, the cars have a difficult time navigating four-way stops because human drivers do not always follow the right-of-way rules.
Although they have not reached human capabilities yet, many believe that when automated cars reach their potential, manually driven vehicles will naturally be outlawed. If manually driven vehicles were outlawed, it would no doubt change the nature of personal injury lawsuits; perhaps, vehicle manufacturers and the creators of automated driving software will one day become the liable parties in car accidents.
Source: Huffington Post, “The Future Today: Self-Driving Cars,” Grace Ji-Sun Kim, July 09, 2015