How Safe is Safe Enough: Can We Trust Self-driving Cars?

Self-driving cars have not fully taken over the roads, but they do exist now thanks to forward-thinkers such as Elon Musk. Despite their presence on the roads, however, there are still many who are not completely on board when it comes to driving such vehicles. Especially for a family, there might be several things to consider:

Human Error

Anything that is controlled by humans will have to factor in human error. We are not perfect, and we are not automated. We act based on our emotions and sometimes our actions depend on our sobriety. Drunk driving is one thing that will never happen when you’re using a self-driving family car. A self-driving car will not be affected by alcohol. In fact, a person who has had too much to drink will even be safer riding a self-driving car than when doing the actual driving himself.

Losing Control

As human beings, we have the capacity to think and make decisions. It’s this autonomy that makes a person’s driving habits unique. One person may choose to run the red light because they are in a hurry or because they see that no one else is on the road anyway. Conversely, they may also choose to make a detour whenever they need to. When driving a car, the feeling of having control makes a driver confident in the actions he takes.

Take that control away and he might fidget in his seat, unable to do anything because the car drives itself. However, it’s extreme to think that a person, or a whole family, is held hostage inside a self-driving family car. The reality is that the car only complies with the rules of the road; it does not decide the person’s life for them. And if the car taking control means getting to your destination safer, is that really such a bad thing?

There’s also the recent changes introduced to self-driving cars that aim to make them more friendly. For instance, Tesla has announced a “Shadow” feature for their vehicles, which learns from the manual actions of the driver. If your car does exactly what you would do, only more efficiently and without delayed thinking, it will certainly make the drive safer.

The Possibility of Being Hacked

This is perhaps the biggest argument against self-driving cars. Who can argue that the system is completely safe from being hacked, really? Even sophisticated systems around the world can be hacked. And hackers are getting wiser by the minute. It only takes a weak spot in the self-driving car’s armor to get inside its systems. This is where we rely on the genius behind self-driving cars to hack-proof their systems. So far, however, there has been no reports about them being hacked. That’s a good thing, right?

Anything that’s newly introduced to the market will be met with skepticism, especially if it involves human life. The roads are not safe, but with self-driving cars being introduced, who’s to say the roads won’t be safer? Just think about it: a future where everyone’s driving a car that knows just when to stop to avoid accidents–regardless of the state of its passengers. Doesn’t that seem like a safer way to drive?