Study: Even a small uptake off self-driving cars would reduce traffic deaths

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If only 10 percent of cars on the roads were self-driving, they could reduce traffic deaths by 1,000 per year and produce nearly $38 billion in economic and other savings, according to a new study.

If 90 percent of vehicles were self-driving, close to 22,000 lives per year could be saved, ringing in economic and other benefits at a massive $447 billion.

This is because over 90 percent of all crashes are due to driver error, and over 40 percent of fatal crashes involve alcohol, distraction, drugs or fatigue.   This doesn’t account for other human factors such as speeding, aggressive driving, or slow reaction times.

The Eno Center for Transportation released their findings to the Associated Press, detailing the advantages of “autonomous” vehicles. 

Through the advocacy of Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes, Florida became one of three states to pass laws regulating the licensing and operation of self-driving cars.

“There will be many steps before we get to that, but it does feel like there is a whole new world that completely changes everything in terms of our perspective on driving that could emerge eventually,” said Joshua Schank, Eno’s president and CEO.

According to Schank, the most difficult obstacle will be to make self-driving cars cost effective to the point that they could become mainstream.

Other challenges to adoption include public acceptance, liability questions, and security measures to prevent car computers from being hacked.