Driverless Cars: The Future is Now!

January 13, 2016

We live in an age of seemingly endless technological innovation. Watch an episode of the Jetsons from decades ago, and you will catch a glimpse of what we thought the future might hold: flying cars, robotic maids, and handheld computers. Today, we live in a society where nearly two-thirds of Americans own smart phones, three-dimensional printers are available for in-home consumption, and people travel using airplanes and hoverboards daily. The future is here!

Driverless Technology and Automation

The next big innovation in how we live our day-to-day life will be the driverless car. Some experts estimate that driverless cars will be optional by 2024, and mandatory by 2044. Does that mean an end to car accidents? Not necessarily. Self-driving cars are still undergoing extensive testing under real-world traffic conditions. Since 2012, self-driving cars tested by Google, Delphi, and Audi logged over a million miles on roadways, but have been involved in 11 accidents. The problem with this statistic is that it is simply misleading. In 8 of the 11 accidents, the self-driving vehicles were struck by other cars. That makes sense, considering that 90 percent  of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by some type of human error. In theory, the only way that self-driving cars will be completely safe is if the human factor is minimized to zero, or as close to zero as possible.

Driverless vehicles will not be completely safe even when everyone utilizes them. The reason some experts suggest for this anomaly is that automation will lull passengers into a false sense of security, leading to complacency and apathy. Without paying attention to the road, safety measures will be thrust into the robotic hands of the vehicle itself. Imagine what roadways would be like today if drivers of vehicles with rear-view cameras, drive-assist, and other robotic warning capabilities relied solely on their vehicles for making critical driving decisions. The results would be disastrous.

Some theorists estimate that rather than widespread adoption of self-driving vehicles, the emergence of driverless vehicles will actually increase the use of public transit autonomous vehicles, or robotaxis. Merrill Lynch predicts that these autonomous public vehicles could make up to 43 percent of all sales, thus reducing the need for new automobile purchases, including self-driving car sales. This could result in people choosing non-driverless vehicles if given the choice.

Driving Tips to Avoid Accidents

Until the day that everyone drives an autonomous vehicle, we must each be vigilant on the road. We owe a duty to other drivers to see what is there to be seen on the roadway. In simple terms, that requires constant observation of our surroundings. Drivers should ensure that their commute is free from distracting activities, especially eating and drinking in the car. Imagine that you were going to be deposed by an attorney tomorrow for what you choose to do in your car today. If the attorney were to ask you the following questions, under oath, would you be confident in your answer?

  • Were you paying attention to the road?
  • Did you have any alcoholic drink in the 12 hours leading up to the drive?
  • Were there any medications that you were supposed to take that you neglected to take that day?
  • Were you on your cell phone?
  • Were you using a navigational device?

If the answer to any of these questions gives you cause for discomfort, rethink the decisions you make before you enter a vehicle. The difference in your choice could prevent an auto accident.

Call an Attorney After a Car Accident

Since there are no driverless cars on most roadways today, call an experienced attorney if you find yourself involved in a motor vehicle accident. The Connell Law Firm, LLC has experienced attorneys available to discuss your case and offer a free consultation.