Highways Without Crashes: Is It A Pipe Dream?
Since the very first years that there were cars on the roads, many people have wondered whether there will be a time when accidents and car crashes are worries of the past. They dream of a future where you can travel on the road without panicking that you might not make it home. The problem, of course, is human error. Human error is something that causes the majority of accidents on the roads. People make mistakes, and when they make a mistake, a crash can occur. You might think that because you are a safe driver, you can avoid the danger of a car crash but you can’t. You can never guarantee the people driving around you are also safe.
However, with recent advances in tech and the excitement around autonomous cars, people are once again asking the question whether in the future there will be zero accidents on the roads. Indeed, Volvo are currently working towards a plan to have zero fatalities in their cars by 2022. But is any of this really possible?
Not All Accidents Are Caused By Human Error
According to Liechtenstein Law Group, the majority of car accidents that they deal with where someone has been injured were caused by a driver or even multiple drivers. However, they also deal with cases where the accident occurred due to something else that was unrelated to the person driving a car. There are lots of mitigating factors on the road that can cause crashes. For instance, a farmer might have left something slippery on the road that caused the car to skid and crash.
Now, one could argue that in a case like this, there is still a liability but it isn’t the fault of a driver. That’s a problem because it means that people driving autonomous vehicles aren’t completely safe. The road will still cause issues unrelated to whether they make a mistake. This isn’t the only issue with the self-driving car either.
Can We Rely On AI?
Right now, no, not at all. There have been multiple cases where the AI used in cars that drive themselves has failed. Now that will improve as the tech advances, but right now we’re still looking at a very basic level of self-driving tech. Tesla expects you to have your hands on the wheel at all times and that should tell you something. They want you to be ready to jump in and take control at any moment which means they won’t be held responsible if you crash.
Even if you could rely on AI completely and it does reach that stage, this tech is going to add tens of thousands onto the price of the car. Not everyone will be able to afford it meaning that a lot of people will still be driving unsafe vehicles.
The Road Ahead
But let’s say that we do reach the point where AI is trusted and where the tech is affordable. And, let’s imagine that the tech in all cars is safe enough to detect and even handle environmental issues on the road. Finally, let’s make sure that everyone has a car that won’t drive at all if it detects an issue that could make using it unsafe. In this idealistic future have we completely eliminated accidents from the road? Actually yes, but we probably won’t see that future in our lifetime. So for right now, highways without crashes are a pipe dream regardless of what the PR wizards for companies claim.