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Will the public be safer with self-driving cars

In a prior post, we noted how a self-driving SUV would be making what would be a maiden voyage into the history books as it would drive (essentially by itself) from California to New York. The trip would be just as much about research as it would be historical, as researchers would learn a great deal about how autonomous cars would react to different traffic conditions and weather patterns.

Indeed, the “road” to self-driving cars is becoming clearer. The technology needed to make these cars a reality is being honed and it appears that self-driving cars on Arizona streets and highways could be seen by 2020.

But will the safety benefits that are imagined actually come true? This is an important question given that only a small percentage of cars will have these features for a substantial amount of time. After all, the technology needed for self-driving cars is expensive; which would make it available only on high-end luxury vehicles. Also, while self-driving cars may be able to see and react to imminent hazards, the majority of the driving public (that do not have this technology) may not be able to.

What this means is that people will still have to use reasonable care while behind the wheel for the foreseeable future. Technology will not eliminate this responsibility even though it might make things slightly easier for those drivers with diminishing sight and motor skills. The expectation will still be that drivers be wary of hazards and act as reasonable drivers would in similar situations.

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