Are self-driving cars safer?

In an era of massive technological advancements, driverless cars promise to dramatically reshape our society. One of the major advantages of automated vehicles is the potential to reduce injuries and fatalities.

As companies continue to develop these technologies and test the cars, the safety of automation comes into question.

What are the safety advantages of self-driving cars?

Autonomous cars take the human error out of driving. The programmed vehicle follows speed limits and the rules of the road by reading via high-definition cameras. Plus, text messages do not pose as a distraction and there are no risks of medical problems or drunk driving.

With the safety software and ranging and light-detecting sensors, these cars can react more quickly in low-light or night conditions. Automated cars make real-time decisions to avoid crashes.

What are the downsides to autonomous cars?

Driverless cars carry the potential for the technology to malfunction. Human supervision is necessary for the current capabilities. The designs are susceptible to forces such as hazardous roadway conditions and dangerous weather.

Additionally, these cars are more costly than average vehicles.

How will these vehicles impact traffic deaths?

According to the National Safety Council, over the last decade, traffic fatalities and pedestrians deaths in the U.S. have slightly decreased. Even with this reduction, autonomous vehicles can continue to prevent some of these fatalities by removing the human error and distractions.

However, if the programmed vehicles drive too much like humans, automation might only prevent around one-third of collisions. Self-driving cars do not have programs to account for some other performance errors like illegal maneuvers and the uncertainty of how other motorists drive.

At this point, between the susceptible prototypes and lack of public acceptance of this technology, self-driving cars are not necessarily safer.