Autonomous cars have been a hot topic in the media, especially after the  pedestrian fatality involving one of Uber’s self-driving SUV’s in Arizona this month.There is no doubt driverless cars are the future and that accident statistics will see drastic changes when they become popular among the general public. But in light of the tragedy in Arizona, some consumers are beginning to question the safety of driverless technology and the impacts it could have on our society as a whole.

 

The Positives

As distracted driving and fatal vehicle accidents increase across the nation, there is more of a need than ever to find a solution for safer roads. Driverless vehicles could have a significant impact on reducing the number and severity of accidents while providing a more eco-friendly option for transportation.

  • Safer Roads: Driverless cars could cut down the number of accidents on the road by addressing the most common driver errors and eliminating the need for people to drive drunk and impaired.
  • More Efficient Transportation: Supporters of driverless cars believe these vehicles will provide an opportunity for public transportation to increase their efficiency and reduce the amount of congestion on the roads by improving traffic flow.
  • Less Parking Spaces: With fewer vehicles on the roads, the need for massive parking lots and parking structures could decrease, allowing more room for housing and business developments.
  • Reduced Fuel Consumption: Driverless cars are electric! Estimated predictions show by 2050, fuel consumption could be reduced up to 44% for passenger cars and 18% for trucks, dramatically reducing pollutants from transportation.
  • More Affordable: Ride-sharing options have become immensely popular, but they can be pricey. Driverless cars could be more affordable than both ride-sharing and public transportation without the need for operating drivers.

 

The Negatives

The fatal Uber crash has highlighted a number of opposing issues with the production of driverless vehicles. Aside from safety issues resulting due to programming errors, autonomous vehicles could cause additional issues such as confusion with insurance claims or reduction of jobs across multiple industries.

  • Safety Errors: Technology is not perfect. Sensors can be blocked. Safety features can malfunction. The idea of vehicles operating without humans to intervene is a scary thought when considering all that could go wrong.
  • Liability in Vehicle Accidents: With computers serving as the drivers of vehicles, who is at fault in the case of an automobile accident? This question could pose several issues in filing insurance claims with additional parties to put at blame.
  • Changing the Automobile Industry: Car companies will not have a need to offer as many models and vehicle types when driverless cars come on the market, especially if the need for personal vehicles decreases. With fewer cars to produce, several automobile industry workers could find themselves without a job.
  • Unpredictable Human Behaviors: Some critics wonder if driverless cars will be programmed well enough to interpret behaviors a human driver could naturally detect, such as adhering to human traffic directors in place of traffic signals.
  • Economical Disadvantages: Driverless cars will not be cheap to make. Advanced technology in every vehicle will cost far more than traditional automobiles. In addition, employees of ride-sharing companies, taxi services, public transit, and several other industries could be in danger losing employment.

 

The Future

When examining both the pros and cons of self-driving cars, it’s obvious that more testing and development is needed before selling these vehicles on the mass market. Our country has seen enough increases in tragic and fatal vehicle accidents, but after the events of the Uber pedestrian fatality, we also cannot afford to prematurely push this advanced technology on the road until it’s ready.