Monday, September 7, 2015

Stop me if you've heard this one : safer cars make more dangerous roads.

This is like a scratched record for me, but go back through my blog and you'll see frequent mentions of how modern cars make drivers more dangerous. Study after study has proven this - isolating people more and more, and adding more and more airbags and "driver assists" is actually making the roads more dangerous. Now we have more than studies - now we have numbers to back it up. The National Safety Council has just released their latest stats for 2015 and it shows a marked and continued increase in the number of fatalities on the road. Despite there being more cars on the road this year with "driver assists" than any year to date (duh), the number of casualties per day is up to 90 now. Compare that to a few years ago when it was in the 55-60 range. There are a number of factors of course and safer cars is only one of them. More texting and more distractions in the form of in-car tech are also being blamed, as manufacturers and more and more gimmicks to distract drivers from the actual task of - you know - DRIVING.
This trend is only going to increase and adding drone cars isn't going to cure the problem. Why? Think of this - you're being driven to work by your drone car. Your busy reading texts, or Facebook, or working on a document or something else. You have no real situational awareness of what's going on outside the car. Suddenly, the car defaults to driver mode because of an error with a sensor (or any other fault) and you're now asked to take the controls. With no situational awareness, you now not only have to control a car with zero notice, you also have to take in everything around you almost instantaneously and act accordingly.
The only constant in traffic accidents is humans - tech isn't going to solve that problem. The more tech you throw at it, the worse the problem is going to become. The answer is - and always has been - simple. Driver training. But that's dull, boring, expensive and doesn't make for good headlines, so sure - drone cars for everyone.