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Could Self-Drive Cars Make Our Roads Safer?

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Health, Money/Business, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comMillions of people drive on a daily basis. In the US alone, there are more than 253 million trucks and cars on the roads. When you’ve got this volume of traffic, there are bound to be accidents, but you may be surprised at just how common car accidents are. Statistics from the CDC suggest that around 32,000 lives are lost on US roads every year. With the number of fatalities so high, it’s worth asking questions about why crashes are so common and how the roads could be made safer. One option manufacturers are working on is driverless cars.

What causes car crashes?

It is estimated that over 90 percent of crashes are caused by human error. People may think that mechanical problems are a major contributor to collisions, but the reality is that most of the time, at least one driver is to blame. Here are some of the most common causes of crashes.

Speeding

Driving at speed can affect your ability to maintain control of the vehicle, it increases your stopping distance, and it gives you less time to react if you do need to brake urgently. There are speed restrictions in place to protect both drivers and pedestrians. If you’re driving over the speed limit, and you crash and injure another person, it’s likely that you’ll end up hiring a lawyer. If you’re negligent and you’re not paying attention to the rules of the road, the person you injure has every right to make a claim against you. When you drive fast, the likelihood of sustaining serious injuries increases. If you hit a tree or another car, for example, the damage will be much greater at 70 mph than 30 mph. When you’re driving, always pay attention to the speed limit.

Driving tired

Most of us are familiar with that feeling of wanting nothing more than to get home and relax after a busy day. If you’re driving home from work late at night, you’re on your way back after a night shift or you’re embarking on a road trip, it’s so important to rest if you start to feel tired. When you’re sleepy, your reactions are slower, and you may lose concentration. In the worst cases, drivers can also fall asleep at the wheel. If you’re on a long journey, take regular breaks, get some fresh air and nap if you need to.

Failing to look

Many car accidents are caused by a driver failing to check their mirrors and blind spot before moving off, turning into or out of a road, overtaking or slowing down. If you don’t look properly, you may not spot oncoming vehicles, and this may result in a collision. Even if the roads are quiet, always check properly before you move the car. It’s also essential to check for bikes.

Drink driving

Driving under the influence can hamper your abilities to focus, react and make sound judgments. In 2015, alcohol contributed to almost a third of road deaths in the US. When you’ve been drinking, your reaction times increase, and you’re more likely to take risks behind the wheel. Even if you feel absolutely fine, it’s highly likely that drinking will have an impact on your ability to drive safely, so never take the risk. If you want to drink, book a cab home or arrange a lift.

Distracted driving

When you’re driving, it’s essential to keep your eyes on the road at all times and to focus on what you’re doing. The trouble is that it’s very easy to lose concentration and to get distracted. You may be listening to the radio, trying to have a conversation on the phone or find your way using a navigation system, and all these actions can lead to distracted driving. If you’re having an argument with somebody or you’re trying to send a text message or change the radio station, you’re not giving the road 100% of your attention, and this is where problems occur. In an instant, the environment can change, and you may not be able to respond rapidly enough.  

Could self-drive cars make the roads safer?

Currently, several manufacturers are working on self-drive vehicles, but will they make our roads a safer place to be? Goldman Sachs has predicted that by 2030, driverless cars will account for almost two-thirds of auto sales. Given that so many accidents are caused by driver error, it makes sense that the introduction of computerized vehicles would reduce accident rates. However, with no brakes and no steering wheel, how can driverless cars be a safer option than the vehicles we currently rely on to get us from A to B?

The technology is heavily focused on sensors, and the aim is to create a driving experience, which is essentially a safer version of the current system. The new breed of car is an autonomous version of the cars we’re used to driving now, and the technology they utilize eliminates the risk of accidents that occur as a result of driver error. The sensors that are used in the development replace the human senses and enable the vehicle to adapt to different scenarios and environments.

Research on Google’s driverless vehicles indicates that introducing self-drive vehicles will improve road safety. In trials, accidents have been caused purely by other cars on the road. A Google spokeswoman claimed that after 1.8 million miles of driving, there had been 13 minor incidents, all of which were caused by other cars, which were driven by humans. Of course, there’s still a way to go, and it remains to be seen how the arrival of driverless cars will affect our roads, but the future looks bright in terms of safety.

When you hop into your car in the morning, you probably don’t even give safety much thought. So many of us are used to driving on a regular basis, and sometimes, this can make us feel like we’re immune to injury. The truth is that car accidents are common, and most of the time, it’s the driver who is at fault. With 90 percent of accidents caused by human error, is it time to welcome driverless vehicles?

Staff Writer; Shelia Hall


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