Autonomous Vehicles Could Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives
The autonomous, or self-driving, vehicle revolution is coming, and is expected to save hundreds of thousands of lives. According to a study by the RAND Corporation, a U.S. nonprofit global policy think tank, such vehicles need only be “moderately better than human drivers” to prevent loss of life and severe injuries.
Small Percentages, Huge Improvements in Auto Death Rates
Even a small increase in autonomous vehicle performance as compared to human drivers, just 10 percent, may save thousands of lives over the next 15 years. The RAND Corporation states that waiting until self-driving vehicles are perfected – or 75 to 90 percent improvement over human drivers – “will result in many thousands of needless vehicle crash deaths caused by human mistakes. The RAND study notes that there is good reason to believe that reaching significant safety improvements may take a long time and may be difficult. Therefore, the number of lives lost while waiting for significant improvements prior to deployment may be large.
A Public Health Crisis
Since its inception, the automobile has posed a significant threat to public health. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,461 people lost their lives in car crashes in 2016, an average of 102 deaths per day. Since 1899, 3.6 million people in the United States alone have succumbed to motor vehicle injuries. While the numbers of fatal crashes have declined over the years because of safer vehicles and a tougher stance against impaired driving, the number of fatalities has actually risen since 2011, when 32,470 people died. These numbers do not include the hundreds of thousands of people seriously injured in car accidents annually, many of whom will never fully recover and suffer permanent disability. Autonomous vehicles may prove the answer to this public health crisis.
Crashes Still Possible
The dawn of the autonomous vehicle age does not mean crashes will not occur. Self-driving cars are vulnerable to the same elements affecting human-driven vehicles, such as bad weather. Cyberattacks are another threat to completely computer-guided cars. As of now, autonomous vehicles may have issues navigating complicated traffic patterns, but these abilities should improve with better technology.
The RAND Corporation’s recommendations regarding autonomous vehicle deployment are straightforward. Their policymakers believe that more lives will be saved cumulatively by rolling out autonomous vehicles now, when there is just a 10 percent improvement over human drivers, than waiting years until the improvement rate reaches 75 or 90 percent. As many as half a million people may die if the country waits until the higher levels of improvement are reached.
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If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness, consult the experienced Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. With offices in Cherry Hill, King of Prussia, and Philadelphia, our experienced attorneys handle personal injury claims throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania. To schedule a free case review, call 856-354-9444 or contact us online.