The Economist notes that about 90 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error, meaning that if humans are taken out of the process, there’s a strong probably that accident rates will plummet.
Even so, the bill requires the cars to have a flesh-and-blood human being behind the wheel if something goes wrong.
“It sounds space age, but it’s almost here,” Padilla told the San Jose Mercury News. “If we can reduce the number of accidents, that alone is worth doing this bill.”…
Despite the bill’s widespread political support, some quarters have voiced reservations, particularly over what happens if driverless cars crash and lawsuits are filed. “This does not protect adequately the manufacturers for liability concerns,” Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spokesman Dan Gage told the Mercury News.
Safety is the trump argument these days in American politics: if you can argue a policy or change will save lives, perhaps even just a few, this is a powerful rationale.
I still wonder how long it will take for drivers to adjust to this and whether everyone would want to give up driving. Part of the appeal of driving in American culture is that it allows individuals to control their destiny, decide where to go and then drive yourself there. If cars were driverless, what would there be to do, particularly if the driver still has to sit behind the wheel in case something goes wrong? Will the thrill of driving disappear?
As this article notes and I’ve noted before, Google has been a key actor in pushing this technology forward.