I’ve been talking about self-driving cars for years, even posted about it on this site. I can’t wait for cars to drive themselves, for personal and selfish reasons, but there are several really good reasons for cars to drive themselves.
Eliminate 35,900 Deaths Annually
In 2009 according to the US Census 35,900+ individuals died in motor vehicle accidents. Such deaths could almost be eliminated by using self-driving cars with their vastly superior capacity for safety over human driven cars.
Eliminate 10.8 Million Accidents Annually
In addition to all those who die are all those who are maimed in accidents and all those whose vehicles are damaged. According to the same US Census there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents in 2009.
Reduce Drunk Driving
How about bringing these numbers down? I mean way down.
Freeing Up Police, Fire, EMT
This not only reduces the deaths and injuries outlined above but also reduces the burden on our public safety officers (police, fire, emt) drastically freeing them up to focus on other areas of crime.
Reducing Government Expenditures
This would also reduce in a reduction in prison populations as DUI drivers would no longer be populating cells. The Legislative Analyst’s Office of California calculates the cost of incarcerating an individual for one year at $47,102 in 2008-2009. Or take the lower figure offered by the Federal Register of $26,163 in 2011.
Have More Time For Family, Community, Yourself!
How much time do you spend driving each day? How much time does that add up to each year? Lets go with a fairly conservative estimate of 1 hr. per day. This would equal 365 hrs. per year…that totals up to two weeks of our lives every year.
What would you have energy to do if you weren’t spending all that energy driving? What could you accomplish during your commute if you didn’t have to focus on driving?
Reduce Infrastructure Costs, Improve Roads
Want to see the roads better maintained? The driverless car could be the solution. We create roads to handle more than average traffic so that there won’t be as many traffic jams. Imagine if that four lane road could be two or three lanes instead. Driverless cars would allow this to occur as they would drastically reduce congestion and thus eliminate the need in many cases for expansion projects. This money could be redirected to existing infrastructure maintenance – eliminating those potholes and fixing those collapsing bridges.
Reduce Pollution by 90%
Okay, okay, so that is a bit of a stretch. There are articles talking about this 90% reduction, but the devil is in the details. Still, driverless cars could significantly reduce pollution by reducing stop-and-go traffic, reducing the number of vehicles utilized by a single family, and generally optimizing performance.
Increase Mobility for Elderly, Handicapped
When we held services after dark we lost a good portion of our church congregation. Why? Because many of our elderly couldn’t see well after dark and so would remain home.
How many elderly individuals are isolated due to an inability to drive? How many handicapped individuals are dependent on others for transportation? With driverless cars these individuals could be free to travel again!
And I Haven’t Even Mentioned…
And we’ve barely scratched the surface of the benefits of driverless cars. What about:
- Reductions in insurance premiums.
- Increased life of automotive parts due to gentler usage.
- Decreased parking congestion due to fewer cars.
- Decreased stress among humans due to driving.
In my article title I claimed this was a way to easily save many lives…but is it really so easy? The answer is yes. There are already driverless cars out there, it is a matter of moving ahead in a more determined manner to get these vehicles into the hands of consumers and to revamp them into models that everyone can and wants to use.
I’m really excited about driverless cars and I hope you will be too. Yes, it is kind of scary to think about computers driving our cars – but, really, the computer will be much more capable than we are of maintaining awareness and responding quickly. Yes, there will be some bugs and bad things may happen – but my guess is that we’ll see at least a 90% decrease in accidents once driverless cars become the norm.
Image Credit: “Google’s Lexus RX 450h Self-Driving Car” by Driving_Google_Self-Driving_Car.jpg: Steve Jurvetson derivative work: Mariordo – This file was derived from Driving Google Self-Driving Car.jpg: . Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.
- Check out Wikipedia for a record of deaths across many years and up to 2013.↩
- I’m linking to a page that suggests 101 minutes as an average driving time.↩