Driverless cars could improve safety, but impact on jobs, transit questioned – Chicago Tribune

Posted: Monday, July 04, 2016

If you are battling traffic, teaching a teen how to make a left-hand turn or worrying over the driving skills of an elderly relative, a driverless car may seem like a marvelous thing.

Cars are being tested by companies like Delphi and Google that are capable of sensing the environment and navigating without human input, and transportation experts expect that we will start seeing them on the market in the next five years. Newer cars already have early versions of driverless technology, such as a self-parking function and automatic braking systems, which can detect obstacles even when the human operator does not.

If everything works out the way designers hope, fully autonomous cars could make the streets safer. In 2014, the National Safety Council found that more than 35,400 people died in car crashes, and the biggest causes were alcohol, speeding and distracted driving — factors that should not be a concern with an autonomous vehicle.

But nothing is perfect: Federal authorities are investigating what is believed to the first fatality involving self-driving technology, in which a Tesla driver was killed in Florida in May.

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