Are self-driving vehicles safe?



Opinion Columnist Abigail Bennethum discusses advancements in self-driving vehicle technology. Pictured above is a self-driving car from Google.

ABIGAIL BENNETHUM, Opinion Columnist

In today’s society, there is some form of advanced technology meant to make your life more efficient. The unifying goal of new technology is usually to better the function of society by implementing a resource that makes our day to day lives go much smoother.  Most of this technology is meant to benefit the user, however, it can result in more negative or useless outcomes rather than the expected positive outcomes.

A piece of technology that has piqued interest in many people is self-driving cars. This new era of technology and innovation is rapidly approaching, becoming more popular in today’s society.

Google, Uber, Tesla and Nissan are the companies who have contributed to this new era of transportation. The technology used in these automobiles mostly consists of laser beams, internal maps, sonars, cameras and other sensors implemented to support the driver on the road. The idea of self-driving cars started in hopes to reduce the figure of traffic-related incidents per year. In 2018, the National Safety Council reported 4.8 million serious injuries. Besides the goal of reducing traffic incidents, producers found many other potential benefits to auto-piloted cars. However, with every great idea comes questions and other factors trailing not far behind.

A beneficial pro mentioned in an article I came across summarized how self-driving cars could help mobilize people that are unable to do so themselves. Agreeing with the fact there should be equity for all individuals to have the freedom of going anywhere they please, finances and the economy are always a factor preventing individuals from living how they may prefer. Most Americans cannot afford a $100,000 car at their disposal, and we all know others are not going to want to pay for somebody else’s.

One of the most talked-about subjects is the job market. The job market is highly popular because jobs are the thing that supplies our lives and hobbies. I have found most of the people who work for taxi services, whether it be Uber, Lyft or the traditional yellow taxi, are college students wanting a flexible job where they make their hours or individuals desiring to earn some extra cash on the side. Creating more of these self-driving cars will decrease the demand for the aforementioned services resulting in a decrease in the job market. Yes, making self-driving cars more known into society might create more jobs or individuals of that intellectual caliber, however, individuals that don’t specialize in the sub-discipline of vehicle engineering are left high and dry.

So, the question stands, is our world ready for a society with this advanced technology? Personally, my answer is  no. There are still problems way more important standing in our world that should be resolved before we should let people drive with no hands on the wheel. Besides the fact of humans and technology being highly unpredictable, people shouldn’t be more distracted than they already are while operating a vehicle.