You may think that self-driving cars are many years away. Truly autonomous vehicles certainly are in their infancy. However, there are already many features available on cars on the current market that have self-driving features. Do these reduce distracted driving? It's hard to say at this point in time. One thing we know is that vehicles will become increasingly less reliant on human drivers. The driving factor, if you will, for this shift away from human-driven cars is that human error is overwhelmingly responsible for car accidents. Listed below are some features already available on the vehicle market. Some of these may be in the car you drive now.
Adaptive cruise control: This feature "tells" the car how fast or slow to go based on the speed of other vehicles around it. It will tell the car to speed up or slow down accordingly. The cutting edge of this technology brings a car to a full stop and starts again once traffic begins moving. A very handy thing to have while sitting in traffic? I would think this kind of technology would make it so easy to check email on your phone, or even watch a movie while sitting in highway traffic - currently against the law in all but a handful of states.
Automatic forward-collision braking: If a car comes to a sudden stop in front of you, it is up to the driver to note the change and react. This process can take seconds under the best conditions, but don't we all know that drivers often follow too closely (which is one of the most dangerous things a driver can do), or are distracted even if they're not taking their eyes off the road - events that can add precious time to that reaction. Cars with this technology can warn a driver of an emergency stop, but the best technology automatically stops the car.
Automatic parking: Wouldn't it be nice to let the car park itself for you? Some vehicles already can. They will compute how much space is available to park in, and decide if the car will fit - something not every driver is able to do, which obviously snarls more traffic needlessly in busy cities. (Another nice feature to note about autonomous vehicles is that they don't experience road rage, or act on it.) And some cars will park themselves, without the need for a human driver to even apply gas or brake.
A couple other features like lane-keep assist, steering-assist and sign recognition are also available, but the most advanced autonomous vehicle driving available now is Tesla's Autopilot. It's the closest thing to a fully autonomous vehicle, putting all the available technologies together. While Tesla cautions that human drivers need to remain alert and keep their hands on the wheel, it stands to reason that if the car is on Autopilot so are drivers. All in all, it will be an interesting transition as autonomous vehicles race to make the best and most affordable options, and human and driverless cars increasingly share the roads together. It does seem likely that eventually driverless cars will phase out human drivers completely.
Last but not least, you're probably wondering how much a fully autonomous vehicle will cost you today. Tesla's Model 3 with all the autonomous features comes to $52,000, a price comparable to many luxury vehicles.
If you, a friend, or a loved one is ever the victim in a car accident, call Bill Coats Law. We have decades of experience helping injured victims receive fair compensation quickly. We serve the Bellingham and Whatcom County community with empathy, grit and determination. Call for a free consultation, (360) 392-2833.