Self-driving, driverless or autonomous cars have been receiving their fair share of news coverage over the last few years. Unlike the advent of the smart watch or dimmer light switches, the significance of self-driving cars borders the realm of a singularity, much like the rise of agriculture or the invention of the internet. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing, all depends on who you talk to. While some are welcoming, or even enthusiastic for change, there are those who are a little more skeptical, possibly even fearful of the potential effects these cars may have on our society. So, what are the potential issues with self-driving cars?
We’ll start with the good news. No matter what your opinion is on these self-driving cars, the benefits of integrating these vehicles onto the road should certainly pique your interest at the very least.
An Increase In Road Safety
This is, without a doubt, the most important contributing factor in the rise of this type of vehicle. approximately 1,713 people die around the UK every year (transport, 2014) because of car crashes. These types of crashes are due, in whole or in part, to human error. With the ideal self-driving car, you would not worry about crashing into objects, you can work on your way to work or relax on your way into work. The amount of lives which could be saved by this type of technology is, without a doubt, remarkable.
They Can Give Freedom Back To The Disabled
Many disabled people find themselves using public transportation to get around, costing them more money over time depending on how frequently they use it and, depending on the day, making it harder to get around. A self-driving car could give power back to disabled people, which has huge benefits.
You’ll Save Time
Do you finish up reports in the car on your way to work? Depending on your answer, you either waste time in your car on a daily basis or simply shouldn’t be driving. With self driving cars demanding less attention from drivers, finishing up that report might not be such a bad idea after all. Not to mention, with increased road safety, speed limits may rise over time, making driving to work that much quicker.
Fun, right? Before you get too excited, here are some of the potential downsides to self-driving cars.
We Won’t Know How To Drive
Currently, if one’s car breaks down, they can rent or borrow one and carry on about their day. What happens if all someone ever did was “drive” a self-driving car and they needed to borrow someone else’s car which isn’t self-driving? With the rise of these cars, we may, in time, lose our ability to drive.
You know when your GPS tells you to go the wrong way? It’s a pain, but you knew better than to go where it told you. What happens if a car which relies on GPS to drive is told to go the wrong way? It’ll be a long trip, that’s for sure.
No matter which side of the fence you’re on when it comes to these cars, this is something society will just have to learn to accept. Companies will buy into them once the right model is released, consumers will buy into them when the right model is released and road safety laws will change accordingly. Sure, there will be a lone group of individuals unhappy with the new form of traffic, there’s a group against nearly everything. But, as with the advent of computers or the internet, no matter how hard some may kick and scream, this piece of technology, if implemented properly, is here to stay until something better comes along.
transport, D. f., 2014. Transparency data, annual road fatalities. [Online]
Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/annual-road-fatalities