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Self-driving cars: Will they reduce vehicle-related deaths?

The year 1980 is largely believed to be the deadliest year in the United States for traffic-related deaths. Over 50,000 people died in an automobile-caused accident that year. What followed were education campaigns, new laws and new safety technologies that served to improve car safety throughout the country. These campaigns, laws and technologies focused on safe driving practices, seatbelt use, airbags and efforts to end drunk driving.

These efforts served to dramatically reduce the number of deaths. The problem is -- with the rise of distractions caused by cellphones, legal marijuana, increased amounts of driving and other factors -- we have seen a 27 percent increase in traffic deaths over the last decade. Some believe that the next step forward in automobile safety involves removing the driver and replacing him or her with autonomous vehicles.

Will self-driven cars be safer?

Autonomous vehicles promise higher safety when pedestrians are able to request such vehicles on-demand. They will be routed more safely and efficiently to better organize traffic flows. Passengers can also share the vehicles by riding with other people, bringing the amount of traffic congestion down considerably. Cities will also be able to integrate autonomous vehicles into their public transit fleets to reduce burdens on buses and subways.

Bringing more convenience and efficiency to public transit, fewer people will use personal self-driven cars. Instead, they will use these safer means of autonomously driven transportation. As a result of the above, streets will be dramatically clear in terms of traffic congestion to bring a new era of traffic management that allows cars to flow freely through existing infrastructure.

On top of these benefits, we have the miraculous benefit of eliminating human error, human distractions and human unlawfulness from the driving equation. This means, no more speeding, no more distracted driving, no more drunk driving, no more driving through red lights and more. Can you see how all these benefits could bring us into an error of near-zero vehicle-related deaths?

We're not quite there yet

Self-driving vehicle safety, at this point , is nothing more than a future promise. We're not quite there yet, as this technology remains in its infancy. One day, however, we may see much safer roads as a result of autonomous transportation. In the meantime, these cars could actually be more dangerous than other cars -- the jury is still out. If you or your family were injured in a self-driving car accident, make sure you investigate your legal rights and options.

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