Technology is crazy. Sooner or later, most jobs will be 100% automated. If you’ve been to the grocery store recently, you know what I mean. You can check yourself out (not in a mirror!) without talking to a cashier. It’s easy to trust a computer with basic math… but what about operating a high speed vehicle? Believe it or not, self driving cars are safer than you think.

Problem: Driver error causes most traffic accidents.

Most traffic accidents are caused by the DD’s.

(Get your head out of the gutter! I’m not talking about a bra size.)

Instead, I mean drunk and distracted driving. These two behaviors killed a combined 13,742 people in 2015.

In other words, most traffic accidents have nothing to do with mechanical failures or roadway conditions. Instead, they have everything to do with human error.

Distracted driving doesn’t always involve a cell phone. It could be as “innocent” as checking on your baby in the backseat (when your eyes should be on the road). Pull over first!

Most people don’t have a great attention span… and let’s face it, driving isn’t super interesting. You’ve done it so many times that it feels automatic. It’s natural to multitask in an effort to prevent boredom.

Natural or not, a brief lapse of focus can get you hurt on the road. It only takes a few seconds. What if you don’t notice a sharp object in the road? At best, you’ll get stuck with a flat tire… and at worst, you might have a blow-out that causes a serious car accident.

Solution: Remove drivers from the equation.

Google (Waymo) believes the best way to reduce traffic related deaths is to replace drivers with robots.

Are they right? It’s impossible to say. But their reasoning makes sense. If driver error is the #1 threat, why not program a car that doesn’t require a human operator?

Self driving cars don’t lack awareness. They’re just like Spider-man. They come equipped with a “spidey sense” that gives them a heads-up when incoming threats are detected.

If you’ve bought a car in the last few years, it’s not hard to understand this concept. New cars already have brakes that can engage when a driver doesn’t react in time. There’s also a warning system that helps you stay in the right lane.

Self driving cars are an accumulation of all these safety features plus more.

Let’s say you hop into a self driving car. As it’s backing out of your driveway, one of its radar sensors observes a slow moving object. Maybe it’s a boy riding his bicycle. The car would automatically stop until he gets out of the way… without any input from the driver.

Take a close look at the picture above. Do you see the weird black object on top? That’s a LIDAR system. It uses laser beams to identify objects and how close or far away they are.

“But how could a car be more aware than a human driver?” Easy! The system can process 1.3 million readings per second. In the process, it captures more information than any human would be capable of noticing. Neat, huh?

Understand: I’m not saying self driving cars are absolutely safe.

A lot of testing and tweaking needs to be done. These cars need to demonstrate their ability to navigate different driving conditions before we can trust them to replace human drivers. Otherwise, a malfunction might end in tragedy. That said, I’m hopeful about the possibility.

Do you think self driving cars are safe or not? Share this article with your friends on Facebook and invite them to a conversation on the subject.

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