Protecting Pedestrians with Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles that drive themselves are already here but will become increasingly popular as time goes on. These vehicles have both autonomous driving options as well as the ability to manually control the vehicle and currently require a licensed driver to operate them. While many think they will replace people altogether this is unlikely to happen for quite some time.
For pedestrians this is likely to be a good thing though the odd accident is still likely to attract some negative publicity for these autonomous vehicles. Even marginal improvements in safety will likely significantly reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on the road.
However to achieve this there will be a steep learning curve with driverless cars learning pedestrian behavior and the reverse. Pedestrians will often Time crossing the street in a way to avoid being hit. They anticipate drivers moving a certain way and speed and the cars themselves anticipate how the pedestrians will move through and around traffic. Changes in the behavior of both pedestrians and the cars are needed to effectively avoid accidents and return vehicles to a safer overall mode of transportation.
Both governments and individuals will need to accept this learning curve until these vehicles become safer to drive. This requires an acceptance of some level of accidents in driverless cars. While autonomous vehicles are already thought to be safer than traditional individual driven cars, any accident in an autonomous car is likely to receive significant Bad press and the potential for large lawsuits against the auto manufacturer.
Society will need to learn how to address the randomness and lack of control that is surrounding accidents around these driver less cars and just accept that the total benefit for society outweighs this cost form the occasional accident. For many the lack of control poses a real concern for them, even when driver less cars are safer.