The Value of Self-Driving Cars Essay Example



People read headlines. Things like “Self-Driving Vehicle Kills Pedestrian,” that can install an opinion in their head. But headlines, such as the one above, don’t tell the whole story. If they did, there would be a new batch every 90 minutes, each explaining a new pedestrian fatality. Except in these cases, human error is to blame.

When something happens that frequently, it is easy to forget that it happens at all. But when something out of the ordinary occurs, it causes quite a ruckus.

So what does this mean? It means that people only get to see the uncommon events. Their news feed doesn’t fill up with stories of another safe day for self-driving vehicles. They don’t get daily confirmation that Google’s cars have still experienced only one at-fault crash after millions of miles driven over seven years (Freedman). But they should, because self-driving cars are a good thing.

While driving nowadays may seem like a safe experience, the numbers are staggering.  Over a million people die in car accidents each year, 37,000 of them being Americans (Silver). That's not even mentioning the millions more that get injured.

Self-driving cars take human error out of the situation, replacing it with a calculated, computer-generated driver that doesn't make the mistakes humans do, which account for a whopping 94% of traffic incidents (Irvine).

However, this technology is relatively new. It doesn’t have the experience necessary to completely eliminate that 94%. But the more it can test, the more it can learn, which is why we should be supporting these vehicles, not throwing rocks at them.

This is exactly what people in Arizona are doing to try and stop self-driving cars. At first glance, their arguments might seem solid. They say things like “They said they need real-world examples, but I don’t want to be their real-world mistake.” But in reality, testing and eventual implementation of these vehicles will help eliminate both these mistakes and those of human drivers, overall making the roads safer for everyone.

So while these cars can immediately promote safety, they can be used for so much more as the technology improves. Think about road capacity. According to David Silver, an expert in the engineering of these types of vehicles, “self-driving (and potentially connected) cars...may be able to dramatically decrease the distance between vehicles, and even move in unison with other cars” (Silver).