Self-Driving Cars & How much bad driving is NOT distraction?

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#1
So I saw this article about self-driving cars: No, You Can't Drive Better Than An Autonomous Car

The crux of it is how 61% of people (in this survey of 2000-ish) think that they are better drivers than computers are. That may or may not be true, and is worth discussing: are computers actually better? I think probably, but wait, there's more!

The article then goes on to say this:
We'll still be better at taking selfies and making movies and flirting and lots of other human things, but when it comes to driving, we can see the writing on the wall.
This is putting forth the (wrong IMO) opinion that most accidents are caused by distractions. Now I don't debate the massive number of accidents that distractions cause, but I also believe that there are just tonnes and tonnes of BAD DRIVERS out there. They can have 100% of their attention on the road, and they still suck terribly. They literally freeze up, or just do the outright wrong thing when an emergency situation hits. Or even more commonly, do bad things to CAUSE emergency situations for themselves or others. Just find a clip from Canada's Worst Driver and you'll see what I mean.

What do others think? While self-driving cars will IMO eliminate both the problem of distracted drivers AND drivers who just plain suck, what proportion of each exist on the road right now? And more terrifyingly, since people will demand that any self-driving system will allow them to "override the system," how many of the "they just suck" drivers will CAUSE accidents through second-guessing?
 
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#2
I think one of the reasons that I am a reasonably good driver, is that I assume that the rest are idiots. That way I am ready for the driver to swerve into my lane with no warning. (happened yesterday, even with me laying on my horn she kept coming into my lane and kept straddling the line for at least 100 yards.)
 
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#3
I leave enough room around me for slop.

Also, once autonomous driving becomes the norm, the idea of "The Company Car" will take on a whole new meaning. It'll be provided by your employer, but it'll take you back and forth to work and nowhere else, and you'd better be doing company business while you're in it. Or else the way cell phones work now will translate over to self-driving cars, giving "Carriers" a new meaning.

--Patrick
 
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#4
I think the idea of self-driving cars is interesting, but if absolutely want a manual override. All programs have bugs, and that could be fatal.
 
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#5
I totally cannot wait until autonomous cars are the norm. I'm in the camp that believe that I am not a better driver than a robot.
 
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#6
I can't wait till I can sleep while driving. Nap on the way to work, nap on the way home. I would be in heaven.
 
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#7
I'll also say, it doesn't matter much if some people drive themselves, it will still help with accidents. You see it in accident avoidance systems we have now. Computers can just react faster.

Are computers 100% reliable? No. I have a feeling they will prevent more accidents than they cause though.
 
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#9
I can't wait till I can sleep while driving. Nap on the way to work, nap on the way home. I would be in heaven.
Nap on the way to California, nap on the way to New York.
I think you just described "trains," only smaller.

That point when they start selling cars based on how well you can sleep in them, tho.
That's my secret...when shopping for cars, I already check to see how easy/comfortable they are to sleep in.

--Patrick
 
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#10
There's only one small problem.

Okay, it's a BIG problem.

And I hit one back in December.

See, there's these animals, and sometimes they don't realize they're running right onto a highway, and they tend to do it in the middle of the night...
 
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#11
There's only one small problem.

Okay, it's a BIG problem.

And I hit one back in December.

See, there's these animals, and sometimes they don't realize they're running right onto a highway, and they tend to do it in the middle of the night...
I'll also say, it doesn't matter much if some people drive themselves, it will still help with accidents. You see it in accident avoidance systems we have now. Computers can just react faster.

Are computers 100% reliable? No. I have a feeling they will prevent more accidents than they cause though.
What he said. Driving autonomously, scanning the way ahead and reacting faster to a sudden roadblock.
Now, if the car will stop in time before the collission, that's debatable.

In my city we have driverless subways, they are quite reliable. Trouble is with people jumping onto the train the last moment and causing the doors to block or such stuff. And if somebody decided to kill himself, than neither a human driver nor a computer can get the train to stop in time; physics.

That said: gimme my flying robot car, dammit!
 

Dave

Staff member
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#12
I am one of the ones who can't wait for this. Imagine knowing in advance how far or long a trip will take or what cars will look like. No longer will all seats need to be facing forward, instead they can swivel to look in all directions. Going through a mountain pass? Great! Now I can see the scenery also instead of always being the driver and missing stuff. Drunk driving is a thing of the past. Want to talk on your phone? Go ahead.

I personally think traffic will be smoother, commutes will be cut in half, and life will be easier for everyone.
 
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#13
Even leaving aside the idea of driver distraction, even attentive drivers can't be fully aware of all things at all times. A computer can scan and react to things far faster than a human being can. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves as human beings is that we can split our attention i.e. "multitask" just fine, but science has shown that absolutely no human can.

Also, computers can drive for hours without needing rest and will be just alert in the middle of the night as they are in broad daylight.

So, yeah, count me in on the automated cars.
 
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#17
I want computer driven cars for one reason: no more auto insurance. If I'm not the one driving the car... if it's not MY fault that a law was broken or something gets damaged, I sure as fucking hell can't be held liable for any damages it causes (assuming I've kept it good repair). Let the car manufacturers fucking pay for it... it'd only wreck if they didn't program it correctly or the city didn't manage it's end.
 
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#18
I want computer driven cars for one reason: no more auto insurance. If I'm not the one driving the car... if it's not MY fault that a law was broken or something gets damaged, I sure as fucking hell can't be held liable for any damages it causes (assuming I've kept it good repair). Let the car manufacturers fucking pay for it... it'd only wreck if they didn't program it correctly or the city didn't manage it's end.
Well... Since it's your property you wold still be responsible to make sure it's working properly, wouldn't you? What if there's an accident because you didn't take the car to the recommended check up?
 
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#19
Or if you hacked into your system so that it would automatically drive five over the speed limit?
 
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#20
Well... Since it's your property you wold still be responsible to make sure it's working properly, wouldn't you? What if there's an accident because you didn't take the car to the recommended check up?
That would be part of your purchase agreement: you are libel for routine maintenance, keeping the car updated, fuel, and such... but they are libel for issues stemming from design flaws and software flaws. The city is libel for damages caused by failure to notify master route control about things like construction, damaged roads, and closed roads. Legally, this is the only way it could ever work... no judge is going to tell the guy not driving the driver-less car that he's responsible for back ending a guy when that's the job of the fucking car.

Or if you hacked into your system so that it would automatically drive five over the speed limit?
If the system could monitor and drive each car individually, there is no reason why it couldn't modify each car's top speed to account for the design of the car or road and weather conditions. You want to go 65-70 safely? Get a better car with better tires and have the city inspect it. Then they can upgrade your speed privileges.

Why would hacking the system matter anyway? Your car insurance already doesn't cover you if you are performing an illegal maneuver. You'd be paying ether way.[/quote]
 
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#21
A lot of people in this thread seem to think that the cars they have TODAY need "central notification" of everything, like construction, closed roads, etc. From what I've read, they don't. They need to be able to read signs and road pylons just like any driver today does. Same deal with "deer" or whatever else may run out into the road at any time. They don't need to know about everything ahead-of-time. They react, just as humans do, but probably in a better way, not locking up the brakes, staring directly at what they are trying not to hit, etc.

Here's the #1 quick tip for everybody for better driving: look where you want to go. If you stare at that child/deer/wall, you are nearly doomed to hit it.
Just google "distracted driving accidents" and you'll unearth a mountain of research that shows most accidents are attributable to distractions.
To the research! Distraction.gov:
The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
Wikipedia - List of motor vehicle deaths in U.S. by year:
2011 - 32,479
2012 -33,561
So steinman, though the number of accidents is NOT AVAILABLE (seriously, try to find non-fatal numbers. If you can find it, awesome, please post it. The number above is the only number I could find, and that's only distractions), it appears only about 10% of fatalities are attributable to distracted driving. So "most accidents are attributable to distractions" seems unlikely, though possible, though it would say that the vast majority are non-fatal too.

So it comes back to my original point: drivers SUCK. Distractions make it worse, but the average human driver is terrible, and is actively causing accidents and fatalities.
 
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#32
CDC says in 2010 only 18% of accidents where an injury was reported were attributable to distracted driving, so you're right, only 1 in five accidents are distracted. Mea culpa.

http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/
Thanks for finding the right link man. I was only finding the deaths one.

My main point (of this thread really) is that so much press time is spent on "the thing that makes driving dangerous for the nice ones not doing it" (speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving) and not on what's ACTUALLY causing the majority of the crashes: stupid fucking drivers who should never have a license in the first place, and should have gotten it pulled years ago. All 3 of those things are contributors, no doubt (except the first, as it's a trivial contribution), but if you put the amount of effort that is put into speed enforcement into catching and getting off the road the TERRIBLE drivers out there (those who with no distractions, and help from a person in the seat next to them still struggle on the road), then I'll bet that would have a lot larger effect.

Of course that would cut off major revenue sources for cities (speed & red light cameras) and police (speed traps), but of course they're not concentrating on the money-makers, and are focusing on actual safety... right?
 
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#33
And honestly, that one change would take care of a lot of freeway problems we currently have, and account for a significant portion of US driving miles.
Fair enough, though I doubt that those many many freeway miles are accounting for the majority of accidents and fatalities. My understanding was that highway driving was ALREADY the "safest" type per mile (and perhaps per time as well) due to it being "easier" than surface roads. But I have no data on that, I am just stating my perception.
 
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#34
And then this makes the headlines: This Moron Left The Driver’s Seat In A Self-Driving Infiniti Q50 On The Highway: Video

Here's the video embedded:
So ya. This both says DON'T DO THIS UNTIL IT'S CHECKED OUT!!! as well as a "I had no idea such advanced stuff was on the market already." There were other cars, and construction pylons in that video that the car had no problems with (it slowed down for him). He didn't crash. It was still reckless IMO, but it does show what's even being sold, and what's in the lab is even better than that.
 

Dave

Staff member
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#35
Google automated cars have already logged a million miles in live testing on city streets in Northern California. They've had 2 accidents. One was a car that had been manually overridden by a driver and the other was a rear-ending of the Google car. Were all of the cars on the road automatic, neither would have happened.

You guys sound like old people who are afraid of technology.

People used to think cell phones caused cancer or made planes fall from the sky or gas stations to explode.

The Large Hadron Collider was going to create a black hole in the middle of Europe that would kill the world.

There are several instances where technology can and would make things better but were resisted merely because of hypothetical horror stories that were not based in anything other than fear. I find it odd that this group, which is more technologically savvy than a lot of sites, would have such a problem with what I see as an obvious and immediate benefit to society.
 
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