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Car accident prevention of driverless cars decades away

Whether it is a daily commute to work or a long drive to a vacation destination, most Maryland drivers would rather be doing something else with their time than sitting behind the wheel. The companies pouring money into driverless car technology are counting on this selling point but the most important factor is safety. Despite the potentially enormous benefits in reducing accidents, autonomous cars are likely to remain in the future for a good while longer.

A closer look at the potential benefits of driverless vehicles requires starting with the current costs. First is the nearly 7 billion hours collectively spent by drivers on congested roadways. This does not include the many hours of vacation time effectively wasted or the millions of daily commutes. Automated vehicles will lead to increased speed, better coordination between cars and passengers with more free time. Those passengers will also be safer, since 94 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents are caused by human error.

What is stopping progress is a combination of technical hurdles, legal concerns and political opposition. Mapping the entirety of the U.S. and programming vehicles are no small feats. If there is an accident, determining liability will be a complex issue. Also, commercial truck drivers are unlikely to stand on the sidelines while their jobs are destroyed.

Automated vehicles are part of the future, at least so far as Google, Toyota and others are concerned, but widespread adoption is likely to take several decades. In the meantime, collisions will continue to occur, and when an accident is caused by a negligent driver, others on the road who have been injured might want to have legal help when seeking appropriate compensation for their losses.

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