Study: Self-Driving Cars Would Eliminate Majority Of Traffic Deaths, Congestion

by CBS DC  |  published on October 24, 2013

The driverless car "Made in Germany" (MI
WASHINGTON — In some ways, computers make ideal drivers: They don’t drink and then climb behind the wheel. They don’t do drugs, get distracted, fall asleep, run red lights or tailgate. And their reaction times are quicker.

They do such a good job, in fact, that a new study says self-driving cars and trucks hold the potential to transform driving by eliminating the majority of traffic deaths, significantly reducing congestion and providing tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits.

But significant hurdles to widespread use of self-driving cars remain, the most important of which is likely to be cost. Added sensors, software, engineering and power and computing requirements currently tally over $100,000 per vehicle, clearly unaffordable for most people, the study said. But large-scale production “promises greater affordability over time,” it concluded.

Questions also remain about public acceptance, liability in event of an accident, and the ability of automakers to prevent car computers from being hacked.

Nevertheless, the advantages of self-driving cars are such that if only 10 percent of cars and trucks on the road were self-driving, they could reduce traffic deaths by 1,000 per year and produce nearly $38 billion in economic and other savings, said the study by the Eno Center for Transportation, a foundation dedicated to improving transportation.

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