[E]ven though fatal crashes are proportionately declining, year-over-year, the least-reliable components of cars — drivers — are still the least regulated.
To be safe at any speed, it’s clear that automakers should be held to a higher standard to reduce human interaction or increase driver attention.
The cynic in me wants to yell, “WHAT ABOUT BOTH, HUH? HOW ABOUT MAKING THE WHOLE CAR AUTONOMOUS AND STILL MAKING SOME POOR BASTARD SIT IN THE ‘DRIVER’ SEAT WITH HIS EYES PEELED OPEN LIKE A CLOCKWORK ORANGE AND THE SAME PERIODIC SHOCKS TO THE CORTEX THEY GAVE HARRISON BERGERON? IS THAT ENOUGH?” But then I return to reality. And in the American reality, there is not going to be any improvement in driver’s education, nor will American drivers get any “better”. Save your leather-fetishist fantasies of outrageously expensive Swedish driver’s licenses that include two years’ worth of skidpad training and a mandatory WRC podium. That’s not how America works. It’s also not how Europe will work once the the majority of the population adheres to sharia law. Ask the British how easy it is to get a massive extra-cultural immigrant base to obey homegrown motor-vehicle regulations of any kind.
Okay, there is one possibility, but you’re not going to like it:
If the American driver cannot be improved, then he must be stripped of his power to guide the car. Yet that cannot be done — not yet. The autonomous vehicle, as it exists now, is basically a terrified senior citizen. It doesn’t see very well, it isn’t always certain where it is, it has trouble interacting with other traffic in a predictable manner, and it slows down the traffic around it. Its primary virtue, as with a terrified senior citizen, is the low speed at which it operates. So we could obtain all these safety benefits for Americans in a heartbeat by making 25 mph the maximum speed limit off the freeways and 45 mph the limit on limited-access roads. Presto, watch deaths from traffic collisions disappear even as deaths from road-rage murders skyrocket.
I take heart in the fact that everyone who has ever said “If it saves just one life…” is, or eventually will be, dead.
In the meantime, have a Twisted Tune: