Although a lot of comparisons have been made between self-driving vehicles and human drivers, not all of those comparisons have been fair or accurate.
One study found that distracted driving accounted for approximately 4 million accidents each year. That is almost half of the 11 million crashes that take place on an annual basis. Unfortunately, the problem only seems to be getting worse as distractions like texting become more and more common. Researchers recently analyzed a group of 28 studies, comparing the data. According to their findings, texting or looking at a phone while driving can have numerous adverse effects, ranging from limiting the ability of the driver to detect stimuli, to decreasing reaction times, causing a loss of control over the vehicle, and increasing the rate of collisions.
Based on this information, some researchers even believe that texting while driving is more dangerous than operating a vehicle at the legal limit for alcohol or while under the influence of marijuana. The problem isn’t only limited to teenagers. Older adults are every bit as likely to be guilty of texting while driving. They are also far more likely to talk on their phones while driving.
One of the primary arguments used by proponents of self-driving cars is that they eliminate distracted driving. This, in turn, could possibly decrease the number of crashes, limiting the number of deaths and injuries that occur on an annual basis. In actuality, however, comparisons between self-driving vehicles in human drivers don’t necessarily bear that out.
According to studies, over 90% of the automobile accidents that occur in the United States are caused by driver error. In theory, stopping these accidents could reduce the new for the Trevino Law Firm in Corpus Christi, but also, save the lives of the same number of people as were killed in Vietnam within just two years of the technology being introduced.
As someone who researches human factors, I don’t find that information adequate for evaluating whether or not automated vehicles would be better at avoiding crashes than humans. The only way to tell for sure is by evaluating how many times drivers avoid collisions. What are the actual odds of getting in a collision for a human driver?
Of course, this is extremely hard to measure. For instance, say that you were trying to determine how many times you avoided bumping into people in the hall. To figure that out, you need to not only look at the amount of time that you spent walking down the hallway but also the number of people that were present. When a non-event occurs, it is usually overlooked or easily forgotten. However, to make a fair comparison between self-driving vehicles and human drivers, researchers need to gather statistics about the number of non-collisions that occur in both situations.
Comparing Statistics Equally
Accident statistics relating to human drivers are drawn from a number of different driving conditions. For instance, some statistics come from people driving when it is raining out while others come from people driving on dirt roads. The bulk of the data on self-driving vehicles, on the other hand, has been gathered from states in the western part of the country. Typically, these cars are only analyzed when the weather is good. The data itself is primarily recorded when the vehicles are driving on highways with multiple lanes in a single direction. In these types of situations, the primary tasks that the car has to accomplish include staying in its own lane and avoiding tailgating the vehicle in front of it.
These types of tasks are relatively easy for automated vehicles. Of course, humans are also quite good at accomplishing these tasks. Until more data is gathered from other parts of the country and on different types of roads, however, it is difficult to make a fair comparison. In fact, it will most likely be a long time before a self-driving vehicle has the opportunity to drive as many miles on an annual basis as a typical human driver.
One of the advantages of automated vehicles is that they don’t succumb to human problems such as tiredness, anger, or drunkenness. At the same time, however, they lack the reasoning skills to deal with unexpected or confusing situations. They also can’t really anticipate potentially dangerous situations that may be coming further down the road as a human driver could. Instead, they operate at the moment.
Automated systems have a hard time distinguishing between different types of objects. A group of people waiting at a bus stop might look almost the same as an empty cornfield. If a vehicle is facing an emergency situation, most drivers take the course of action that will minimize damage to both themselves and the people around them. A self-driving vehicle doesn’t have the ability to analyze the situation and decide on the best course of action. Instead, they only react in one way, which may not necessarily be the best way.
Technological Advancements Create Fresh Complications
Most people are on board with the idea of pursuing driverless technology, simply because there is the potential for it to reduce the number of accidents that occur. It would be amazing if these vehicles were able to stop car accidents altogether, eliminating deaths and injuries on the road. Of course, some people love getting behind the wheel and driving their vehicles. In that case, they may feel disappointed not to be able to drive their car.
Of course, the new technology doesn’t always result in better outcomes. All that you have to do is look at the aviation industry for examples. When new technology is introduced, the number of negative events usually increases temporarily. This may discourage people from fully embracing self-driving technology if this also occurs with automated vehicles.
When comparing human drivers and self-driving vehicles, it is important to use caution. It is going to be a long time before all of the cars on the road are replaced by automated vehicles. In the meantime, self-driving cars and human drivers will have to interact with one another. How this will play out remains to be seen.
If you want to honestly compare driverless technology and human drivers, you need to make sure that those comparisons are being made accurately and under the same circumstances. Comparing two different sets of data from different driving conditions won’t give an accurate picture of how the technology performs in comparison to traditional vehicles. As with any major technological shift, it is important to proceed slowly and to use caution to avoid unexpected problems along the way.