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Driverless cars: convenience or catastrophe?

Total Recall, Demolition Man and other feature films set in a future America forecasted the promise of driverless cars. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a movie that took place in 1940s Hollywood, revealed a more sentient autonomous vehicle named Benny the Cab. The smaller screen also depicted self-operating cars that featured K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider and the famed Batmobile from the original Batman series.

In 2017, fantasy has become reality. However, with that reality comes potential risks when it comes to the operation of actual driverless cars. Questions remain. How safe are these technological motorized marvels? More importantly, do they save lives?

Early Signs Regarding The Safety Of Driverless Cars

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that a pedestrian is injured every seven minutes and killed every two hours in the United States. The consulting firm of McKinsey & Company also released findings that revealed that the use of autonomous cars reduced deaths on the road by 90 percent.

Recent accidents involving Tesla and Google vehicles have shined the spotlight on potential safety problems. However, those collisions were the result of mistakes made by the drivers, not glitches in autopilot technology. Removing the “human error” factor could potentially save 300,000 lives and $190 billion in health care costs annually, according to McKinsey & Company.

Will Maryland Help Lead The Way In Cutting-Edge Technology?

In December, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the state was applying for a U.S. Department of Transportation program that would turn I-95 and other major arteries around Baltimore into testing grounds for autonomous vehicles. The initiative would “work out the kinks” involving autopilot features, steering wheel-free vehicles, and other technologies.

Their primary goal is to ensure human drivers sharing the road are as safe as their autonomous counterparts.

Federal transportation officials are expected to announce the chosen test areas in the coming months.

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