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Pros and Cons of Self-driving Cars

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How would you feel living in a world with self-driving cars becoming a part of everyone’s daily life? There has been debates about whether or not self-driving vehicles are actually beneficial to the economy and our lifestyle. One of the first accidents involving a self-driving car happened on May 7, 2016, in Williston, Florida, where a man driving his Tesla was killed when his car had crashed into the side of a tractor-trailer that was crossing the road as it was speeding on Autopilot. Another recent accident had happened on March 18, 2018, in Tempe, Arizona, where a 49-year-old woman was hit and killed by an automated vehicle when she was walking just outside the sidewalk while pushing a bicycle. These two accidents had involved Uber, Tesla, two civilians, and the Tempe Police Department to figure out why it had happened. The debate about self-driving cars had become popular around 2016 when the first accidents involving automated vehicles began to occur. Many people believe that self-driving cars are beneficial to the economy because they could drastically reduce the number of car accidents each year, while others believe that they are not beneficial to the economy because they could misinterpret human speech and cause more serious problems. Self-driving cars are not beneficial to the economy or our lifestyle; there is potential for technology to go wrong and cause safety risks, it takes the fun out of driving, and it will affect employment involving the auto industry.

First of all, with self-driving cars, there is potential for technology to go wrong and cause safety risks. For instance, in an article by Paul Wagenseil, he reveals, “The only proven fatal accident involved Joshua Brown, the Ohio man killed in May when his Tesla Model S plowed into the side of a tractor-trailer as the car was speeding on autopilot,” (Wagenseil). The man’s camera had apparently not “seen” the white trailer in front of the car as an obstacle, possibly because it might have been hard to distinguish the trailer against the bright sky. While the car’s radar could have picked it up, the latest Autopilot version at the time was designed to disregard obstacles detected by the radar unless it could be confirmed by cameras, which proved to be a failure in Tesla’s sensors. In addition, in an article by Abdesalam Soudi, the author explains, “Yet navigating construction sites or accident scenes may require following directions from a human in a way that cannot be programmed,” (Soudi). This idea is important because hand signals can vary widely from region to region, which can make it difficult for self-driving cars to recognize what the sign is telling them to do. Due to this, self-driving cars can misread signals and mistakenly follow a hand gesture into a barrier or another car, leading to standoffs or car accidents. Evidently, self-driving cars can cause more accidents and safety risks due to the possibility of technology going wrong.

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Furthermore, the production and distribution of self-driving cars can take the fun out of driving. For example, in a 2017 article written by Lou Frenzel, he explains, “Furthermore, cars reflect who we are. They show our personality or how we view ourselves,” (Frenzel). In other words, a motorcyclist would be passionate and attached to their vehicle, a minivan person would be more calm and prefer the family life, and a Mustang or Ferrari owner would be someone who loves the thrill of excitement. On the other hand, self-driving cars may show that the owners have no driving or navigating skills, they are lazy, they prefer to be texting or posting on social media, or may just not care about their mode of transportation. Also, in a DriveWrite Automotive Magazine by Geoff Maxted, the author states, “One of the joys of driving is being able to trust your own skill,” (Maxted). Many people like to enjoy and take risks when driving their own car because they know they are experienced enough to handle it. Therefore, trusting a machine completely is a whole other level that many people do not want to go to because they do not really know how the car is going to react, which makes driving less fun. Overall, self-driving cars can take the fun out of driving by limiting us from expressing our personalities and enjoying ourselves through different types of cars.

Moreover, as self-driving cars become more popular, they will affect employment and the auto industry. For instance, in an article written by Noah Rothman, the author claims, “Driverless vehicles will displace millions of laborers,” (Rothman). In a world with driverless vehicles like cars, trucks and busses, about 4 million people who drive these cars to earn a living will be eliminated and suddenly find themselves without a job. Since the main skill of these workers is the ability to drive, the cost of re-training them would be very high and unemployed workers will find it extremely difficult to quickly find new work. Additionally, in an article by Adam Hayes about the consequences of self-driving cars, Hayes states, “…people will rely more and more on calling a driverless car from a shared fleet similar to calling an Uber, causing a decline in the private ownership of cars,” (Hayes). There are more cars than people in many parts of the world, so if fewer families and individuals own a car to rent a self-driving car instead, then car dealerships will suffer and possibly disappear. This would completely ruin the automobile industry, which would result in the loss of millions of jobs and billions of dollars in economic output. All in all, self-driving cars can lead to the loss of millions of jobs and billions of dollars surrounding the auto industry.

On the contrary, both experts and studies explain how the use of self-driving cars can make traffic and roads a lot safer than it is today by drastically reducing the number of accidents every year to help save thousands of lives. However, other studies have shown that self-driving cars cause twice the amount of accidents than regular vehicles due to technology possibly malfunctioning. In addition, in a 2015 study from the University of Michigan, Paul Wagenseil explains, “But self-driving cars have to share the road with human drivers, and human drivers seem to hit self-driving cars twice as often as regular vehicles…,” (Wagenseil). Self-driving cars tend to be too cautious, too observant of the law, and too slow to adjust to the changing events, which can be a good thing, but it is not. This is because the technology cannot be programmed to react instantly in chaotic situations, which makes it more susceptible to car accidents than human drivers. Although studies have shown that self-driving cars can make the roads safer, other studies have shown that self-driving vehicles cannot be programmed to react like a human driver in chaotic situations, which in turn makes the roads more dangerous.

Many people have been wondering if self-driving cars are actually beneficial to our economy or lifestyle. A few years after the construction of self-driving cars, a couple of accidents and deaths have occured in different locations involving autonomous vehicles. After these occurrences, people began to pay more attention to the impact self-driving cars will bring to the future. Due to technology having potential to go wrong and cause safety risks, taking the fun out of driving and affecting employment involving the auto industry, self-driving cars are not beneficial to the economy or our lifestyle. There have been numerous studies and accidents that have shown the consequences self-driving cars may bring in the future if they are released into the world. Although autonomous vehicles can bring some benefits that can greatly improve our economy, there are many disadvantages that may come from those benefits taking place, which can create a bigger impact on us than the advantages.  

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