Last year, the number of people in America dying in motor vehicle-related accidents numbered more than 30,000. That figure is roughly equivalent to the number of people enrolled in Colorado State University. Thankfully, the number of people dying in car accidents is showing a mostly downward trend in recent years, but deaths numbering in the tens of thousands are still much too high.
To put this into perspective, the number of motor vehicle-related deaths is roughly equivalent to gun-related deaths in the United States. Now usually the circumstances are much different, but negligence in a vehicle is clearly proving to be just as fatal to society as is intent to harm with a gun. And, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter to the dead person if they were killed by a gun or by a much bigger piece of metal.
There is much national debate about gun control, but the real key there is why people want to kill each other in the first place. Cars and their annual killing sprees seem to be able to slide by year after year without much new legislation. GM recently has come under heavy scrutiny for their Cobalt’s killing people due to faulty ignition switches. The problem has been known for at least five years, and yet neither the company nor the federal government felt compelled to protect the public from this deadly defect. This begs the question of how many more instances exist in which cars get away with killing people for years without being brought to justice.
Obviously, it is not the vehicle one is driving that causes most motor vehicle deaths. Instead, it is the idiot behind the wheel who is ill prepared to be put in charge of a speeding ton of steel and aluminum. Apparently eating, cell phones and music demand more attention than the millions of pieces of information that zoom across your face when traveling 60 mph down the interstate. In truth, humans are ill equipped to drive vehicles; we simply cannot process and react to enough information to be considered safe drivers. And it is well known that even if you’re good at driving, everyone is still at the mercy of all the other idiots on the road. CSU at noon, ring any bells?
Because human negligence and inability results in tens of thousands of deaths every year, it would be a very wise move to begin the transition to driverless cars. Computer’s can process information at a much better or at least more rational rate than humans, and they will never get drunk and drive or allow their ego to rage out on the highway.
With our technological abilities today, it seems obvious that computer controlled cars are the future. No more wrecks due to people not paying attention, the cars system exists only to pay attention. And if all the cars on the roads were driverless and linked to a central command sharing information center, wrecks would become scarce.
This would require some major overhauls of our national transportation system, but the 30,000 dead people a year demand action. It is intellectually irresponsible to allow ill equipped people to drive a vehicle. Today, licenses are granted to anyone turning 16 who can drive in a circle around the town for 20 minutes. These people are granted the right to be put in control of massive, dangerous metal objects. In the 20th century it was an economic necessity to own a car and drive it around. Today, we have the technological capabilities to provide adequate public transportation to many, and safe driverless cars to the rest. Instead we continue with our outdated modes of transportation due to a static will in society to accept the dismal status quo.
The future of driverless cars may be closer than you think. Google has a project that currently puts automated cars on the road, without being responsible for any accidents to date. The cars have logged over 300,000 miles. Clearly the technology to do this exists, and hopefully we are only a few years away from wider implementation than just the four states (Nevada, California, Florida, and Michigan) that currently allow for automated car testing.
Driverless cars would allow for less parking congestion, because they could drop someone off and then go park, the visually impaired would be able to travel, and most importantly, less motor vehicle deaths. America owes it to the 30,000+ fatalities each year to at least give it a try.
Res Stecker is tired of human error when it comes to driving. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Motor vehicle accidents numbers are roughly equivalent to gun-related deaths, and we have to do something about it.
Technology-controlled vehicles are the way of the future, and can save lives.
America owes it to far too many fatalities to not give it a try.