As a traffic and transportation planner, I thought it was important to weigh in on the driverless vehicle discussion based on the article, "Maryland proposes I-95 as testing ground for driverless cars" (Dec. 21).
One topic the article highlighted was the safety aspect of driverless cars. Self-driving cars have the ability to prevent accidents, thus saving lives and money. Believe it or not, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that a pedestrian is injured every seven minutes somewhere in the country while, tragically, a pedestrian is killed every two hours.
But with autonomous vehicles becoming more mainstream in the years to come, experts believe U.S accidents involving both pedestrians and other vehicles could fall from second to ninth place in associated deaths. U.S. consulting firm McKinsey & Company conducted a study which found that by using driverless cars, deaths on the road could be reduced by 90 percent, saving nearly 300,000 lives each year and $190 billion in accident-related health care costs. How? By simply removing human error that is inherent when any person gets behind the wheel.
But what about those widely-publicized accidents — including a fatality in a Tesla — with driverless cars?
In the May accident involving a Tesla, autopilot technology was not at fault. And when Google conducted test drives with 48 self-driving cars, the three accidents that occurred were due to human error in each case. Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.
While it still seems space-aged to think of a car driving itself, the reality is that this technology is coming to Maryland. There are many positive changes that will come with this technology such as freeing up time to sleep or work. But the best change of all may be that it will have the ability to prevent accidents, thus saving many lives, maybe even yours!
Wes Guckert, White Marsh
The writer is president and CEO of The Traffic Group, a traffic engineering firm.