Self-Driving Cars Could Save Lives, but are Americans Ready?

Self-Driving Cars Could Save Lives, but are Americans Ready?

Driving is dangerous and stressful, among many other incredibly negative traits. At this point in our history, it is well known that people will never be safe behind the wheel. The decline in fatalities over the decades has not been because of better, more aware, highly skilled drivers. It is because of safety technology such as seat belts, airbags, and anti-lock brakes. One of the newer and most important innovations is electronic stability control, which takes some of the braking out of the driver’s hands by applying individual brakes in order to keep the car heading in the intended direction even at the limit of tire traction, and to keep the vehicle from spinning out and losing control, according to of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Countless lives are saved daily because of these safety features, and fatalities and injuries per mile driven in the U.S. have been on a gradual decline not because of drivers taking more personal responsibility (cell phone use behind the wheel has only been rising), but because cars have become safer themselves. Why, then, is it that only 40% of Americans want to ride in or purchase a self-driving vehicle?

Why Do Americans Not Want Self Driving Cars?

In a 2015 survey performed by Ford, people were asked whether or not they would purchase or ride in a self-driving vehicle. While countries such as India and China had positive responses of 84 and 74%, Americans responded negatively with 60% not inclined to get behind the wheel (or blank dashboard) of a driverless car. While many people may have qualms about the reliability of a computer driving for them, we already rely on computers to take over in emergency situations that we either created ourselves or are unable to appropriately respond to (think back on electronic stability control). The perceived dangers of computer failure of self-driving cars do not exist even in today’s early prototypes; Google self-driving cars have driven over one million miles over six years of testing with only a 11 minor accidents, all caused by the human drivers of other vehicles.

Aside from America’s fears of robotic cars, there may be another issue that is making people hesitant to give up the steering wheel: The joy of driving. According to Ford’s global trend analysis, Sheryl Connelly, the fault may lie with America’s obsession with driving. Connelly says, “We do have a theory about what explains the disparity between these markets, and I think it gets down to the joy of driving. In China and India you have some of the most egregious congestion. You have high road fatality, you have immature infrastructure and also I think there’s not the established emotional attachment many Westerners have with their vehicles.”

While driving may be enjoyable at times, it will forever remain a dangerous activity while human drivers are behind the wheel. If you have been injured in a traffic collision, contact an experienced car accident attorney today to discuss your legal options, free of charge.

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