Do We Have An Obligation To Stop Driving Cars? – Forbes – Forbes

Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2017

Autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars are coming. Experts predict that every major auto manufacturer will have a self-driving car on the market by the early 2020s. And this has got many people talking about the business impacts.

Every revolutionary technology brings with it revolutionary change. Businesses and industries that don’t adjust quickly could face catastrophic consequences. Consider the jobs lost for truck, taxi, and delivery drivers, the lost revenue to many car-related enterprises like parking companies, insurance companies, and even personal injury lawyers, local municipalities that rely on revenue from traffic violations, and so on.

And it’s already begun. There are cars with autonomous capabilities already on the road. I was struck recently by a video that surfaced of a Tesla in Europe that predicted a car crash ahead and alerted the driver, and applied the brakes seconds before the crash actually happened.

Essential to this story is that no one — no human — could have predicted the crash and reacted the way the car did. It is likely that the car prevented the crash from becoming a pileup and a much worse situation.

Car accidents are one of the top causes of accidental and premature deaths in the U.S. and around the world. More than 35,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in the US alone in 2015.

If we could reduce that number by a significant percent, wouldn’t we then be morally obligated to adopt self-driving cars?

My own dad was killed in a car accident when I was a teenager. Another driver going the opposite way veered into ongoing traffic and caused a head on collision that killed my dad and the other driver. I still remember the expression on my mum’s face when she picked up the phone and the impact it had on our family. And I would do anything to spare my family or anyone else that sort of pain and horror.

Cars on highway 101 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The number 1 cause of fatal car accidents is distracted driving. Most accidents are caused by human error and self-driving cars will stop that. Will there be the occasional fluke accident? Of course.  But the potential is there for self-driving cars to greatly reduce the number of traffic accidents that happen.


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