How Safe Are Self-driving Cars?

Self-driving cars are harmful to society because they will decrease safety and cause confusion. There are many disadvantages that these autonomous vehicles hold, including the price. Most importantly, there could be unavoidable accidents caused by the lack of a brain in these driverless cars.

Autonomous driving is no longer a futuristic dream, it is becoming a reality. Self driving cars are automobiles which require little to no human involvement. Car companies, such as Tesla, have been equipping their vehicles with autopilot technology, sensors, and cameras to help navigate rather than the skill or intuition of the driver. Imagine you are driving and you suddenly see a pedestrian crossing the road in front of you. What is your first instinct? You have to decide whether to swerve, brake, or both. That is a hard enough decision for humans, let alone leaving it up to a computer. Currently, the software compiled in these vehicles is not smart enough to understand the difference between colliding with an inanimate object or a person. Some individuals are also concerned about personal data being collected due to all of the information needed to be stored in the computer.

A self-driving car does not completely eliminate the likelihood of a motor vehicle collision. In fact, there is no legal precedent for how a case would be handled. The difficult question would be who holds responsibility in a car accident. The driver? The manufacturer? The software developer? In May of last year, the fatal crash of a self-driving Tesla in Florida applied the strongest brakes to the self-driving car movement and tempered enthusiasm. In the incident, a tractor trailer made an ill-advised left turn into oncoming traffic, and the white side of the trailer against a brightly lit sky was not picked up by the vehicle (nor the driver who was still behind the wheel). The self-driving car did not “”see”” the tractor trailer; therefore, it failed to apply the brakes. So who is responsible for this accident? There is no possible way to know whose fault it is for sure. Another devastating incident caused by self driving cars occured in Tempe, Arizona. The accident caused 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg her life as she innocently walked her bike across the street. The video released that exhibited the inside of the car showed the operator, identified by the police as Rafaela Vasquez, 44, appearing to look at something inside the vehicle and not at the road at the time of the collision. She alternated between looking down and looking forward and appeared shocked at the last minute just as the car failed to stop. It is unclear what went wrong in this event, but it did take place at around 10 pm. Because The cars rely on radar sensors that are meant to detect pedestrians; cyclists; cars; and other obstacles, it is possible that Herzberg was not exposed to the camera until too late. While a horrible and catastrophic event, officials are deciding whether to press charges or not. This was one of the first disastrous tragedy to happen from autonomous vehicles, and it certainly will not be the last.

Many nice, reliable, new vehicles cost around $30,000 in 2018, according to Kelley Blue Book. While still expensive, many people are able to afford it, but when driverless cars come out, they are predicting it be priced anywhere between $75,000 and $100,000. Think about it: the amount needed to get the vehicles made, buying the hardware and software, is around $150,000. And if your brand new driverless vehicle has mechanical issues, the cost to get it fixed would be extremely high because all of the parts are recently developed. That is not including the labor you would have to pay, which would also be pricey because the cars are new and the workers are still learning about them. Besides, what is the point of having a car if you are not going to drive it?

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