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Self-Driving Cars: What Are They? How Many Motorcyclist Lives Will They Save? When Will We Start Seeing Results?

An estimated 94 percent of accidents across the nation are due to human mistakes. That’s a terrifying statistic, one that practically demands a Manhattan Project like marshaling of resources to address.

Fortunately, over the past decade, Google and other tech pioneers have been hard at work on the case, perfecting the technology for self-driving cars. These “vehicles from the future” promise numerous advantages with respect to fuel efficiency and time/energy savings. They come equipped with sensors that detect objects, pedestrians, motorcycles and other vehicles; and they are designed to safely navigate roadways in all types of conditions. The elderly and the visually impaired would benefit enormously from the advent of self-driving cars, for obvious reasons. Best of all, these cars should reduce motor vehicle accidents dramatically, coast to coast.

Testing Self-Driving Cars

As of March 2016, only four states – Washington, D.C., Nevada, California and Florida – have passed laws that specifically permit self driving vehicles. While autonomous vehicles might still be legal in other states, they are not expressly authorized to operate; the laws do not actually differentiate between a person behind the wheel and someone (or some artificial intelligence) operating the vehicle.

Self-Driving Cars and Implications for Motorcycle Safety

Some of the following technological advances in self driving cars should significantly reduce overall accidents, which could mean motorcycle riders will be safer. These include:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Emergency braking
  • Blind-spot detection
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Night-vision assistance

Analyses suggest that autonomous vehicles could eliminate up to 99 percent of all auto accidents. Talk about a gamer changer! Statistically speaking, motorcyclists would benefit preferentially from these safety improvements, since they’re more at risk than other motor vehicle operators today. Just under 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives in 2012. If some version of the optimistic safety scenario comes to pass, thousands of motorcyclist lives could be saved every year, even before the “self-driving revolution” kicks fully into gear. Preliminary estimates show that 10 million self-driving cars could take to the roads by as early as 2020.

One glitch in the (current) technology is that computers sometimes struggle to recognize street workers and law enforcement officers who direct traffic. Systems could also be susceptible to hackers or computer threats.

Advantages for Motorcyclists

Some experts believe that an “automated car paradigm” will benefit motorcyclists in the following ways:

  • It will increase the ease of lane splitting
  • It will decrease drunk driving
  • Driving will no longer be an unwanted task
  • It will reduce driver mistakes

Given the frequency of motorcycle accidents on today’s roads, it’s hard to avoid them even when you drive proactively. If you were the victim of a motorcycle crash, and you want more information about your legal rights, contact the professionals at our Denver personal injury law firm for a confidential, free consultation about how to obtain compensation



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