Can technology outsmart bad drivers?

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Although I’m a huge advocate of using technology to make our lives simpler, I have to admit the thought of riding in the back seat of a driverless car sends chills down my spine. Unless the car is on a track at Disneyland, I’m not interested. There’s just so many bad drivers out there, not to mention people who dart into traffic, broken signal lights, dogs and bikes zipping between cars — the list of split-second decisions that need to be made while driving seems endless.

So when I saw the Business Insider article about aggressive drivers that bully self-driving cars, I was intrigued. The benefit of riding in a self-driving car is you don’t need to worry about breaking any driving laws; the cars are engineered to follow the rules of the road and protect the passengers. According to research results from a study done on drivers’ attitudes about self-driving cars, there are those who intend to bully the automated cars by aggressively driving around them, forcing the self-driving car to let them pass. In situations where the self-driving car has the right-of-way, bully drivers say they will go first anyway, knowing that the automated car will comply.

Experts worry — rightly so — that this will lead to more bad behavior by already aggressive drivers. There’s so much road rage out there already, at least from what I’ve experienced on L.A.’s crazy roads, I’m not sure we’re ready for another excuse to drive like bullies.

Reference

Price, R. (2016, October 17). Aggressive drivers bully self-driving cars. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://nordic.businessinsider.com/aggressive-drivers-bully-self-driving-cars-autonomous-vehicles-study-lse-goodyear-2016-10/

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6 Responses to Can technology outsmart bad drivers?

  1. Joseph Patrick says:

    I’m glad that you addressed this topic this week. There is no way that I am a perfect driver, but I’m always concerned about the amount of dangerous drivers on the road on a daily basis. I’ve been noticing more aggressive behavior on the roads of San Diego, lately. I’m not an owner of a self driving car, but I’m very aware of the bullying that they tend to receive. I also noticed that if you try to drive at a moderate speed, you will eventually catch a trailing driver who seems to be in a hurry for surgery. Complying may not feel like the most pleasing decision in these situations, but it is definitely the safest. Drive safely, everyone!

  2. Joe Garcia III says:

    Carolyn,
    Great post in regards to your blog ‘Can Technology outsmart bad drivers.’ I agree with you I would find it hard to be a passenger in a vehicle that has no driver. Even if all the vehicles on the road were equipped to be driverless, I feel that a glitch in the system could happen. Yes, it is a give and take, because of so many mistakes that could have been avoided by human drivers on a daily basis. But I feel that at least with me I have control over the vehicle. I know that as technology advances, driverless vehicles will almost have no accidents compared to human driven vehicles.
    Just recently Tesla’s Autopilot mode (driverless vehicle), had a glitch in the system and the vehicle attempted to drive full speed under a truck trailer causing Tesla a fatal crash. This happened because Tesla’s car sensors system failed to distinguish the White of the trailer of the 18-wheel truck. This was a huge blow to Tesla since they have had no deaths in the 130 million miles the Tesla’s autopilot has been tested and recorded.
    The roads have always had aggressive drivers, but now with the huge population this has only increased the aggressive drivers and has caused road rage. I can understand how some of these drivers would take it out on driverless cars in what is being called bullying self-driving cars, when they are aggressive or in road rage mode they just don’t care who or in this case if no one is driving the vehicle, they will still take it out on a vehicle that is in their way. I feel the driverless vehicles could be turned on when roads, streets and highways are non-peak traffic. But eventually I get how positive driverless cars could be for our roads, because if all cars are in sync there would be no traffic congestions, because all the cars are reading each other and making sure the traffic is flowing easily and smoothly, there would be no accidents as well. Thank you for your post.

    • Joe Garcia III says:

      Just wanted to add at the end of my comment that when all cars are in sync and are reading each other there is a smaller percentage of an accident to occur and most importantly almost eliminating road rage.

  3. Mabrisa says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    I agree, driverless cars also sends chills down my spine. The technology would just encourage people to drive more recklessly and to be too self-reliant on their vehicle. We ran one story at my news station about a man who was passed out in the driver’s seat of his driverless car. Clearly he had a crazy night and was taking advantage of the new technology in the worst way possible. I know that Google is designing and testing out driverless vehicles, but I just don’t trust it, even if it’s a Silicon Valley company. Also, the cars would put a lot of drivers out of a job who deliver items around the country. Not worth it!
    Great post,
    Mabrisa Rodriguez

  4. Kathleen says:

    Carolyn-
    This is a fascinating topic, and one that’s near and dear to my heart as I live in the DC area; we are “proudly” in the Top 5 worst areas for traffic in the country every year. I also can’t imagine handing over the reigns, but control issues aside, I am curious to see how driver-less cars may help improve traffic overall. I never considered that there are road bullies who try to “beat” the driver-less cars, however. I’ve also never considered Mabrisa’s example of someone under the influence who used their car for a “safe” ride home. There are so many associated issues with driver-less vehicles and I wonder where we’ll end up with this. I suspect it will become quite common over time, with younger generations embracing the technology. It would be interesting to conduct research on pilots, for example, when the autopilot feature on planes was introduced. Interesting post. Thanks!

    Kathy

  5. Alyssa says:

    Carolyn,

    What an interesting post. Truth be told it totally freaked me out! I’ve had conversations with friends about the human life value and how self driving cars make those sorts of decisions, however I had never thought about bulling. Sounds like another factor we need to consider.

    You post did brings back a memory to an NPR story I heard a year ago about the fear people had riding in automated elevators. Fun-fact elevator music was implemented to calm peoples nerves because of the absence of an operator.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/07/31/427990392/remembering-when-driverless-elevators-drew-skepticism