The next step to the car of the future

In Opinion

The dream of riding in a car controlled by a computer was once nothing more than a scene in a science fiction movie, but now it’s slowly becoming a reality. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill, SB-1298, in late September that will allow self-driving vehicles in California—as long as there is a human in the vehicle, that is.

Brown signed the bill alongside Google co-founder Sergey Brin and state Sen. Alex Padilla, who authored the bill, at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Allowing self-driving vehicles is safer than human drivers because they are less prone to accidents on the road and will even help the environment. Google is testing their prototype and documented that there were no accidents during testing while being controlled by a computer.

The only accident documented was a fender bender that was caused by a human behind the wheel, according to

This is a prime example why computer controlled cars are safer than a car being controlled by a human; humans aren’t perfect, it is why we are destined to make mistakes especially on the road. Computers are created to not make them. Each time a computer does a task, it does it exactly the same.

Google, already a greatly trusted company, is going to great lengths to make sure it figures out all the nuts and bolts to make its self-driving vehicle perfect.

By 2040 the need for a driver’s license may become obsolete and in a Wired magazine article, electrical and electronics engineers recently released predictions that autonomous cars will account for up to 75 percent of vehicles on the road by that time. These self-driving cars are deemed to be already safer than human-driven cars.

From 2001 to 2009, Wired magazine reported that  369,629 lives were claimed on American roads. Of these, 93 percent of crashes were not from mechanical issue of vehicles, but human error.  There is finally an alternative to being dangerously cut off, reckless drivers, and the guy that is driving after a few too many drinks. The self-driving car is a boon for mankind, saving lives, reducing congested traffic and even allowing those to drive that cannot, such as the blind.

The risk of more human related incidents outweighs the cons of computer controlled incidents. It is much more likely that a human will kill someone from texting or not paying attention to the road than a computer will have a technical error, and by the time self-driving cars are on the road, these technical glitches will have been worked out.

Aside from safety benefits, self-driving cars also would improve gas mileage, reduce emissions and enable cars to “talk” to one another to improve traffic flow. A self-driving car also can minimize traffic by chaining together with other self-driving vehicles to use highways more efficiently.

The use of cars that drive without a human driver could be comparable to public transit, so instead of yelling at the person cutting you off in front of you on the freeway during the morning drive, you could be reading the newspaper and finishing your morning coffee.

Without a human behind the wheel it could almost eliminate road rage and make the roads safer for everyone.

The self-driving car is a benefit to those who have lost their privilege to drive or are disabled, especially since Southern California residents almost completely rely on self-transportation. Without being able to drive you would be stuck unless you opt for using the bus or metro system.

A computer-driven car may be still be too far off in the future to get excited about, but this is going to be a good change for Californians, society and the environment.  Hopefully one day California will be known as the state that popularized self-driving cars, just as New York is known for using subway stations as their main transportation. Either way it will be a good change for the future.

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