Will Autonomous Cars Eliminate Accidents? Don’t Count On It

There is a lot of hype and excitement surrounding autonomous cars with some people believing that they could take the level of accidents on the road down to zero someday soon. But before we get carried away, there are a few things to consider here.

Autonomous Cars Are In Their Infancy Stages

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You might think that the tech surrounding autonomous cars is highly advanced and it is. However, it’s still in its infancy stages. You can think about these cars like the first laptops that appeared on the market. They were bulky, used a lot of power and were nothing compared to the ones that we have today. Well, that’s a great way to look at the autonomous car market. Right now, there’s only one or two developers of autonomous cars meaning that customers don’t have a wide range of choices. And when they do, there’s going to be significant difference in the level of the tech. Some cars will be completely hands-free while others will be glorified versions of cruise control. As such, the tech just isn’t at the stage where it can be the massive advancement in safety that people are hoping for. If you don’t believe this, be sure to check out the advice that Tesla provide to owners of their self-driving vehicles.

Tesla explicitly state that drivers still need to pay attention to the roads, even keeping both hands on the wheel. Since Tesla are currently the producer developing the most advanced form of this tech, one has to wonder how autonomous these cars actually are. After all, there have already been reports of cars crashing because the drivers weren’t paying attention to the road. That brings us to the next point.

Distracted Driving

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What causes the most car accidents on the road? If you speak to a an accident attorney from firms like Jones Wilson, they will probably tell you it’s distractions. We often associate distractions with talking on our phones while driving. But a distraction can be anything. It could be fiddling with the sound on the radio, an argument going on in the back seat or someone flipping you the bird. Anything like this can be a distraction that could ultimately lead to an accident. Will autonomous cars be able to fix this issue? Probably not because don’t forget, the man who crashed his self-driving Tesla car was actually watching Harry Potter at the time.

But let’s assume for the moment that the tech is advanced enough to do whatever you want while the car is driving itself. It isn’t, but let’s imagine for a moment it is. There’s still another issue that we can’t ignore, and that’s the situation with rights.

Licence To Drive

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Imagine that you’re a teenager and you have just learned to drive ten or twenty years from now. Congratulations! You probably can’t wait to get your hands on a wheel and take a car for a spin. But wait, a law passed a couple of years ago prohibits driver cars being allowed on the roads. Just take a moment and think about whether a law like that would be passed. Don’t forget, plenty of people enjoy driving. You might say, well that’s okay because people who want to drive still can and those that don’t can use driverless cars. Cool but if you take that tactic you’ll never get to zero accidents on the road because human error will still be a factor. Though, if the majority chose to buy self driving cars, then you would see a sharp, massive reduction in the number of accidents. Note we did say, If.

Concerns Of Cost

Despite energy efficient alternatives being readily available to majority of people still buy cars with petrol and diesel engines. Why? Some people may just prefer a true gas engine, but the majority just can’t afford to buy a car like this. Even second-hand, they are still far too expensive for the average individual. So, if people can’t afford to buy a car like this, what are the chances they’ll be able to afford one that can drive itself. For at least a few years, this tech is going to be out of reach for the majority of the buying public.

So you see the only way autonomous cars leads to safer roads is by making several assumptions. The tech has to be cheap, the tech has to be reliable, and the tech needs to be advanced enough to work without human interference. Right now, none of these assumptions are true, and it’s unlikely this will change in our lifetime. 

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