The number of traffic accidents is on the increase and that worries many people. If a technology was introduced that would drastically reduce the number of traffic accidents, would you consider that? Manufacturers of self-driving cars promise 90% fewer traffic accidents because they remove one factor from traffic: human action. But what are the pros and cons of self-driving cars on the road?
“He came from nowhere!”
You drive 80 km/h on an N-road and keep a close eye on the car in front and behind you. All of a sudden the car is braking for you. Even if you press the brake pedal with all your force, your car does not stop quickly enough to prevent a collision…
The benefits of a self-driving car
We humans are human. That makes us fun and interesting creatures, but also unpredictable. Because of our humanity we do not have a total overview of a situation. A computer or a self-driving car can monitor many more factors at the same time than we do. No matter how fast your responsiveness is, you don’t know what decisions the driver makes for you. The only thing you can see is what the car is doing from the outside or indicating that it is doing with the (brake) lights or direction indicators. The actions and decisions that other directors make are invisible to you.
Self-driving car, on the other hand, can exchange data with another self-driving car. They talk to each other, as it were. This ensures that self-driving cars do know from each other which decisions they make and which actions follow them. This ensures that self-driving cars can better anticipate each other. This is one of the reasons why they can prevent accidents.
A total overview of the traffic
Our view is limited to one point. In the car, our view is also limited by the look. We learn during driving lessons to look left, right and over our shoulder. We also check if there is someone in our blind spot, but we cannot all do this at the same time. Self-driving cars are made in such a way that they have a total overview of the traffic situation. In combination with the information they receive from other cars, they have an overview that we cannot achieve with all our human resources.
One of the most difficult moral issues must not be forgotten: if a self-driving car causes an accident, who is the culprit? The driver (who actually did not steer) or the car manufacturer? The legislation now states that the manufacturer is guilty of test drives if the system is not working properly. But the future is not yet clear.
Self-driving cars are saferSelf-driving cars can process much more information and act accordingly in traffic accidents, more than what we humans will ever be able to do. This makes self-driving cars safer in traffic. Yet something is itching with many people when it comes to self-driving cars. We find it difficult to relinquish control because we do not yet fully understand this new technology. As a result, we have difficulty trusting self-driving cars. Yet many experts agree: the self-driving car is coming and will prevent many traffic accidents.