Tens of thousands of Americans die in car and truck accidents every year. These accidents take an unbelievable toll on individuals, families and the nation as a whole. The financial impact of all these traffic accidents is measured in the billions, not millions. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board believes the self-driving cars could play a significant role in preventing this catastrophic loss of life.
NTSB chairman Christopher Hart recently wrote a blog on the topic of autonomous vehicles. The NTSB has engaged in a number of efforts recently to legitimize or at least plan for the potential of driverless vehicles. In this blog, he states a position of relatively clear advocacy for the safety potential of these cars.
The blog states that driverless cars have the potential to save “many, if not most” of the lives lost in motor vehicle accidents. This is, perhaps, an unsurprising belief. Previous studies have shown that more than 90 percent of fatal car accidents are the result of driver error. People make poor decisions, including the decision to drive drunk or pay attention to other things while driving. Cars that drive themselves would still have the potential for deadly failures, but they wouldn’t be based on fatigue, boredom or irresponsibility. Driverless vehicles are immune from road rage. They do not get angry or distracted. Computers are far from perfect, but it wouldn’t take much to make them more perfect than human drivers.
Autonomous vehicles are likely a long way off. Unless their use was made mandatory, many drivers will prefer to control their own destiny, rather than leaving it in the “hands” of a computer. This is unfortunate, as Mr. Hart is likely correct that thousands of lives could be saved by driverless cars. Anyone who has witnessed , up close, the devastation that a fatal car accident leaves in its wake is likely eager to see these accidents prevented.
Source: Tucson News Now, “NTSB: Driverless cars could save lives” by Kevin Adger, 8 August 2016