Safety is the number one reason advocates for self-driving cars give for promoting the technology as the wave of the future.
It’s difficult to argue with that point because human drivers account for an accident every minute of every day in the U.S. alone. Over 37,000 Americans died last year as a result of car crashes, so we have to admit that human drivers make a lot of mistakes.
When computers do the work and make the driving decisions, human error is eliminated and driving will become a nearly accident-free endeavor.
That’s the thought, anyway, but is a future without car accidents realistic?
The federal government doesn’t keep stats regarding the number of actual car accidents in our country. It bases its numbers on reported accidents to local police departments. Since reporting a car accident can result in increased insurance rates, many minor fender-benders go unreported.
Google funded a Virginia Tech study on the topic. The Washington Post reports,
An annual national tally of crashes relies heavily on those reported to police. It understates the actual total of crashes with injuries by at least a quarter and “property damage only” crashes by anywhere from 60 to 84 percent, they concluded. And they consider those numbers conservative, given the mishmash of state reporting requirements and holes in the local data used by federal agencies.
Accidents involving self-driving cars, such as the ones in Google’s fleet, are required by law to be reported. In September 2016, according to Google’s statistics, there were only four accidents in over 2 million miles of driving. Three of those happened while the test vehicles were in manual mode, which means they were being operated by a human driver.
The evidence seems pretty clear so far.
I say let’s give humans a break from driving and see how the computers do. They can’t possibly be the texting, drunk, road-raging, eating, road-racing mess that humans have become.
Do you believe it’s time to give control of driving to the robots?