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Self-driving cars available in 10 years?

Wisconsin drivers may be able to buy self-driving cars by 2020. Car manufacturers and technology companies, such as Google, estimate that automated vehicles will be available for purchase within the next decade. A number of states have begun testing these types of cars and creating legislation for them. Since 90 percent of car accidents are caused by human error, letting a computer drive could dramatically reduce the frequency of auto accidents, providing enormous savings and even reduced road congestion.

Computers do not drink, suffer from fatigue or get distracted, making them essentially perfect drivers. Automated vehicles are also able to detect and handle a variety of road conditions and objects in their path, cutting down on the chances of the car being involved in a collision. According to a study by the nonprofit Eno Center for Transportation, if 90 percent of vehicles on the road were automated, more than four million accidents could be avoided every year, saving approximately 21,700 lives.

In addition to cutting down on accidents and loss of life, automated vehicles could reduce traffic jams and drive times. Based on information from the Federal Highway Administration, approximately one-fourth of traffic jams are caused by collisions. Additionally, by sensing the speed and braking intentions of other vehicles on the road, self-driving cars could pace themselves appropriately to ensure maximum fuel economy and travel speed.

As long as people are still responsible for driving their own vehicles, car accidents will continue to occur, leading to frequent instances of physical harm and property damage. Those who are injured due to another's negligent or distracted driving could choose to file a personal injury claim. In the event of a settlement, funds could be used to cover accident-related expenses.

Source: computerworld.com, "Self-driving cars could save more than 21,700 lives, $450B a year", Lucas Mearian, October 24, 2013

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