According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 38,300 people were killed in car accidents in 2015, with another 4.4 million left injured. In 2016, 18 individuals died in Janesville traffic accidents alone. Of the people who were killed last year, distracted driving behaviors were reported as the number one cause for car accidents.
Transportation and research innovation expert, Peter Sweatman, explains how the increase in distracted driving incidents may be due to the fact that humans are not wired to effectively monitor tasks such as driving a car. To help address this problem, many automotive companies such as Ford, GM, Tesla, Lyft, and Google are now working to create driverless vehicles, designed to decrease car accidents that might arise due to human error, including speeding, traffic violations, and texting while driving.
If you are like many Americans, you might be wondering how a car without a steering wheel, or brake pedal is safer than the cars we are currently driving. To understand why driverless vehicles are safer, it is helpful to understand how they work. Below is a summary of an article written in Business Insider on Why Driverless Cars Will Be Safer Than Humans .
Driverless cars use many sensors to collect data about their environment so they can effectively operate in different driving environments. Some of the sensors used in driverless cars include cameras, radar, lasers, and ultrasonic sensors. Unlike human drivers who may get distracted and miss important environmental cues, driverless vehicles are able to collect sensory data at a superior human level and make safe driving decisions accordingly.
All of the collected data is then sent to the car’s computer system, also known as the “brain,” where it is processed to help the car identify pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles, weather conditions, time of day, and other driving conditions. The more data collected, the more equipped the vehicle is to successfully navigate the road.
Eliminating Human Error
Once the computer of the car is created, it is then placed into the car’s brain and hooked up to the rest of the car’s sensors to help the car make decisions about how it will respond in different situations. For example, a driverless vehicle comes by a parked car with the door slightly open, the car senses that the other vehicles door may open at any moment, and will adjust accordingly by either slowing down or moving to a different lane. While many human drivers may have the ability to successfully navigate similar situations, driverless vehicles are able to do so more quickly and with greater precision.
While it is unlikely that driverless vehicles will be able to eliminate all car accidents, science suggests that autonomous vehicles may have the chance to greatly reduce the risk of car accidents. A recent Goldman Sachs report estimated that by 2030 driverless cars could contribute to 60% of US auto sales.