There has been quite a bit of interest lately in the latest vehicle technology – self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are also known as autonomous cars. These vehicles are being produced in a limited way and are now being tested. If all goes well, these vehicles are likely to begin taking over the auto industry within the next 15 years. Auto manufacturers and others state that self-driving vehicles are much safer than our current vehicle technology. By utilizing self-driving cars, there will be a decrease in accidents, and along with that, a reduction in serious injuries and deaths caused by vehicle accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA – has issued some preliminary guidance for the use of autonomous vehicles. They are planning on making revisions to their guidelines in the future. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation has revealed plans to help accelerate the development of self-driving vehicles with a 10-year, $4 billion dollar program. The program will test autonomous cars in areas throughout the country and provide support to this new automotive technology.
Since the invention of the car, progress has been continually made to help improve safety and convenience. Not all safety features were immediately accepted by drivers. For example, anti-lock braking systems were not initially regarded as necessary or even as desirable. Yet, through the years, anti-lock brakes have likely saved many thousands of lives. Now, anti-lock brakes are the most common type of brakes on vehicles sold in the United States. The same can be said for a number of other features, like seatbelts and windshield wipers. Many other types of improvements have been made over the years. These features are now standard on all vehicles. In fact, drivers would not consider a car safe if it came without them.
Technology Available Today
Car makers are already starting to add new safety features of self-driving cars to vehicles that are available today. One such feature is self-parking. The vehicle needs to be lined up to a parking space before beginning. Then, the vehicle actually maneuvers by itself, to park in the space. Some people don’t trust the new technology and prefer to do it themselves. The self-parking feature is not mandatory. It can be implemented by the driver if and when he feels it is necessary. Parking is mostly a convenience issue, because many drivers have trouble parallel parking. But improper parking can lead to an accident.
Is Technology Reliable?
One of the most common concerns among drivers is whether the technology of self-driving cars is reliable enough to be trusted. This is obviously a concern for manufacturers as well. For this reason, self-driving cars will be thoroughly tested before they are sold to consumers for general use. Testing has been done in closed settings for quite some time. Now, autonomous cars are being tested on roads in several major cities across the United States. The reliability of the technology is being reviewed and if improvements are necessary, modifications will be made before the vehicles are released for sale.
Will Drivers’ Skills Decline?
Some are concerned that autonomous cars will be relied on so much that drivers will no longer need to know how to drive. While self-driving cars will certainly help to provide correct driving, they cannot take the place of humans completely. People who drive autonomous cars will still need to know how to drive and must be aware of the rules of the road. How we drive may change, but the fundamentals will remain the same. Drivers will still be required to be licensed by their state and must pass a driving test in order to retain their driving privileges. State and federal laws will need to be revised to address the issues of self-driving cars.
Help for the Disabled and Elderly
Disabled and elderly drivers may not have the ability to drive a standard vehicle. However, they may be able to use an autonomous car. This can make it easier and more efficient for some people to get around. It could be a dramatic improvement to disabled drivers who previously would have had to have major modifications to their vehicles, or were unable to drive at all. Of course, laws and rules governing drivers would need to be updated to include the new technology.
Resistance to Change
As with any new technology, autonomous cars are not without opposition. Certainly the public will have some time to get used to new self-driving vehicles. There will be plenty of trials and assessments made before these vehicles come to market. The vehicles will likely start out slowly. For example, consider the use of electric cars; while they were introduced some years ago, they are still not commonly seen on the roads. It is likely that autonomous vehicles will follow the same path. It is also likely that it would be many years before traditional cars as we know them, would be obsolete.
Safety is a major concern for self-driving vehicles. A recent study found that the way the vehicles are programmed could make a difference in how they react in various situations. The cars can be set up to provide the greatest protection to drivers and passengers of the car or to pedestrians who may jump out in front of the vehicles. These are scenarios that must be studied and examined to determine how to proceed. New technology always requires some time for modification. That is exactly what is being done with self-driving cars, because they are not going to be available until they are deemed completely safe.
Accidents are possible in any vehicle. If you are the victim of a serious accident with injuries that was not your fault, you need legal help. You could be owed money for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys in Columbia at Connell Law Firm to schedule a consultation.