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Driverless Cars Taking Human Error out of Traffic Collisions?

Car accidents are a sad fact of life that occur every day throughout the United States. One car in particular however, has traveled more than 300,000 miles without getting involved in an accident. While this wouldn’t necessarily be a notable accomplishment in-and-of-itself, this car’s track record is amazing because it is a driverless car. 1412430_illustration_of_a_classic_citroen.jpg

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know that the vast majority of auto accidents occur as a direct result of driver’s making bad choices or careless decisions. When you take the driver out of the equation and put control of the car in the hands of a computer, you eliminate the human error factor that creates a lot of the risk. Of course, this isn’t to say that driverless cars are suddenly going to eliminate all car accidents in America. However, it is worth taking a look at the technology to see what it might mean for the future.

The Driverless Car Phenomenon
According to PolitiFact Florida, news of the driverless car got around nationwide after Jeb Bush commented on a prototype at a speech at CPAC in March. Bush claimed that a prototype of a driverless car had traveled for more than 300,000 miles through the crowded streets of California without ever getting into a single accident.

PolitiFact looked into the veracity of the claim and found that several car companies have autonomous or self-driving cars in the works that are controlled by computers. These cars may be at least a decade away from becoming available to the public and they may cost as much as $100,000. Yet, the cars do seem to be working well so far. A Lexus equipped with Google’s driverless car technology, for example, was able to seamlessly merge onto a highway and to account for a motorcycle and a tailgater.

Although the cars do have some limits, including the Google car’s inability to drive in heavy rain, the cars generally work by having multiple sensors and cameras that allow the vehicle to acquire data, which is then processed. The multiple sensors and data inputs are just one way in which these cars might do a better job than the average driver.

How Driverless Cars Might Save Lives
Jeb Bush indicated that driverless cars would never get lost and never have accidents. While this may be a slight overstatement, the fact is that these cars may in fact be much safer than the average vehicle driven by a person.

A driverless car with data from multiple cameras may be able to see obstacles and other cars better than a person who only has direct and peripheral vision and who deals with blind spots in vehicles. A driverless car may also not be prone to some of the common problems such as speeding; road rage; tailgating; or driver distraction. The car can operate in a logic, safe and pre-programmed manner that responds calmly and without emotion to every stimulus it encounters on the road. Pure 100 percent logic and a pure focus only on processing the data input and maintaining safe driving could be a lot safer than the current situation where drivers may not do a great job making safe choices.

Call Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
South Florida Traffic Accidents & the Impact of Seat Belt Use, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Injury Blog, April 2, 2013.

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