While using GPS, we’ve all at some point encountered the scenario where the GPS tells you to turn right into what appears to be a lake, or to turn left onto a street closed for construction.
Technology is great, but it’s not perfect.
That why it’s good that President Donald Trump’s administration has decided to tap the brakes on self-driving cars for now.
Last year, President Barack Obama’s administration proposed that all new cars and light trucks come equipped with technology known as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V, according to a November Associated Press article.
“It would enable vehicles to transmit their location, speed, direction and other information 10 times per second. That lets cars detect, for example, when another vehicle is about to run a red light or coming around a blind turn in time to prevent a crash,” the article states.
But since Trump took office, the proposal has been dropped from the White House Office of Management and Budget’s list of regulations actively under consideration and instead has been relegated to its long-term agenda, the Associated Press has reported.
This is a highly contentious issue. It is important to do everything possible to avoid fatal crashes, but to think that self-driving technology is the cure gives the public a false sense of security.
For one, advocates say for the technology to work properly all vehicles need to be equipped with it. That would take at least 15 to 20 years for the public to feel the full effect by the time you account for all the used cars on the road. Then add in classic cars which will never be equipped with the technology — and shouldn’t be required to — and you void the requirement.
Also, when technology is added, cost goes up, making it even more likely that more drivers will have to opt for used cars over new cars.
In addition, cars are not perfect in adverse weather conditions such as snow and rain. Snow especially can accumulate on sensors, making them useless and — gasp! — making drivers again rely on their own eyes.
And, just last week, a driverless shuttle bus was involved in a crash with a semitrailer after it made its debut in Las Vegas. Officials said the driver behind the wheel of the semi was at fault, not the driverless car. But it’s another reminder that technology is not perfect.
That is not to say there are not advantages of technology.
The Transportation Department estimates the V2V technology has the potential to prevent or reduce the severity of up to 80 percent of collisions that don’t involve alcohol or drugs, the Associated Press reported. That statistic is probably largely based on the elimination of human errors that come from distracted driving.
It’s important to continue to study new technology. But it’s even more important for drivers to continue to pay attention.
An article published on Autoinsurancecenter.com listed some scary pros and cons about self-driving technology.
Among the “pros” listed were:
Drunken driving incidents should decrease, because there’s no designated driver needed when the car drives itself.
The line at the DMV would be cut short since people wouldn’t need a specialized driving license to operate cars.
There is less of a concern about taking the keys away from Grandma when she gets too old to drive carefully — the car will take care of her!
Those are scary thoughts. Regardless of technology, impaired drivers should not be behind the wheel, people should have licenses and grandma should always be required to be physically able to drive carefully.
New technology is interesting, but President Trump was right to put the brakes on this proposal.