Self-driving cars are coming. The technology is available today, so now it’s a matter of actually manufacturing them and working out the thousands of local, state and national laws. But the economics are so much in their favor, I’m betting they’ll come sooner than later. And some of those laws will be to ban human driving.
Just looking at the yearly death toll reduction from accidents makes the case more than compelling. Currently, there are 37,000 annual automobile deaths in the U.S. and 1.3 million worldwide, and 94% are caused by human error.
Those same trends affect driving in and around workplaces. In 2013, 1,620 U.S. workers died in work-related crashes involving motor vehicles, 24% of all workplace deaths. About 40% of those were from semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker trucks with the balance made up of passenger vehicles, pick-up trucks and SUVs.
The Wall Street Journal reported last year that up to 90% of these accidents could be avoided using self-driving vehicles. That means almost 1,500 workplace lives will be spared annually, and 33,000 overall in the U.S.
With tens of thousands of lives at stake, it may actually become illegal to drive because of the vastly increased risk of death - and I haven’t even noted the non-fatal stats which are much higher. Once self-driving vehicles are widespread, drivers would be significantly putting their lives and others’ at serious risk, leading me to believe that driving for the average person will be outlawed. Drivers licenses will only be issued for specialty situations and require advanced study and training.
This all sounds fine to me, because by the time this all happens – I’m thinking 2025 or so – I’ll be riding around in my driverless car to visit the grandkids, enjoying a VR movie on the way. Knowing that my trip is 90% safer than “the old days” will make the trip that more enjoyable!