Imagine what a better place the world would be if everyone had more time to relax, took action to protect our planet, and fewer people died in sudden, unexpected, horrific accidents. It sounds like a pipe dream, but all this can be accomplished by a new and upcoming technology.
Self driving cars, or autonomous vehicles are currently being developed by big tech companies like Google, Uber, Tesla, and Apple, and our pretty close to becoming a reality. Cars that can travel on and off the highway with very little human input already are on the market and conservative estimates say that one in four cars on the road will be fully self driving by 2030 (Galland, N.P.).
Some people are excited by the new technology while others do not want to hand over their control to a machine, thinking that it will not be as safe as a human driver. Drivers should adopt autonomous vehicle technology when it becomes available because self driving cars will save time, make traveling more efficient, and are significantly safer than human drivers.
Self driving cars will provide riders with more time to relax or get things done. Daily commutes really add up as the average person in “…commutes more than 26 minutes each way, or 500 days spent commuting per lifetime” (Munster, N.P.). Once people can sit back and relax on their way to work, people can take back 500 days of their life.
We all know how stressed the average american is and have experienced some terrible road rage. Currently, only 56% of Americans say they get as much sleep as they need (Jones, N.P.). The world would be a much better place once people can just sleep through their long drives to work. Once we have autonomous cars that drivers can just kick back and relax in, our daily commutes will be enjoyable time savers instead of annoying time suckers.
Self driving cars would not only give people the time back that they spend in the car, they would also make driving more efficient. If every driver on the highway was able to communicate and work together cohesively, moving at the same speed and as close together as possible, we would be much more effective drivers. Real people can not do this, but thankfully autonomous vehicles can, through a concept called platooning.
Platooning is basically the act of creating groups or formations of vehicles that all move at the same speed and turn at the same time through forming a line that has only a meter between each car. This would be a huge deal because, “…platoon formations improve travel time, increase lane capacity, and reduce congestion—which means we spend less time sitting in traffic, less money adding new lanes, and less money buying fuel” (“How an Automated Car” N.P.).
Spending less money on fuel would save us a lot of money. But more importantly, it would have a huge positive impact on the environment. Switching to autonomous vehicles would lead to a 9% net reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emission (Clerkin N.P.). More efficient traveling through self driving technology would not only be more convenient, it would help us reduce fossil fuel usage.
In addition to saving the planet, they would also save may lives. Some people do not like the idea of giving up their control over their lives to a computer program. But it is not like human drivers have been doing such a great job. In 2012 alone “there were 30,800 fatal car crashes. These crashes lead to the deaths of 22,912 driver and passengers of cars, 4,957 on motorcycles, 4,743 pedestrians, and 726 on bicycles” (Ozimek N.P.).
Given that thousands of people die each year from car crashes, even if self driving cars killed a thousand people a year, autonomous vehicles would still be about thirty-three times safer than human drivers. Google’s self driving cars have driven over 10 million miles and have yet to cause a major accident.
When there is an accident, it is usually fender benders caused by human drivers (Cava N.P.). Computers are not just more skilled drivers, they also do not text, get drunk, or become tired. Out of all car accidents, 94 percent are caused by human error of some form (“Car Accidents: U.S. Rate” N.P.). So many people die from human error and distraction in car accidents that it would be cruel to not use autonomous vehicles.
However, not everyone would benefit from self-driving cars. Many people whose jobs revolve around having to have a person behind the wheel, like truckers, car insurance providers, taxi and uber drivers will be left in the dust. “Vivek Wadhwa says that “close to 5 million driving jobs will be lost in the early 2020s, as vehicles achieve full autonomy” (McFarland, N.P.). But with the loss of jobs always comes the creation of new and better ones. By 2050, 7 trillion dollars will be invested into the passenger economy; jobs like massagist and nail technicians will open up to provide services while people drive around in self driving taxis (Winick N.P.).
It is true that people working trucking and other transportation jobs will just immediately transfer over to these new job openings as they require a completely different skill set. There will be lots of struggle in the near future as people start to feel major effects of atomization in the workforce. However, there will be new opportunities as well. Overall society will benefit because some jobs will be lost due to automation, while many jobs will also be created.
We should adapt to self driving cars as soon as possible because they offer us more free time, use less fossil fuels, and keeping our roads much safer. We should not let a fear of the unknown stop us from using a technology that will cearly make the world better. Our government should continue to support the development of this technology and people should educate themselves about the benefits of autonomous vehicles before they get scared of the fact that their lives are in the hands of a machine. The future will be here before we know it, and no one should be ill informed.