Who Will Benefit The Most From Autonomous Cars?

autonomous cars help demographics
Ever since the very first cars rolled off of the assembly line, people have been dreaming about having an autonomous car effortlessly whiz them around the city from place to place. From Elon Musk and Tesla to Ford and Domino’s fleet of autonomous vehicles, it seems that many of the largest players in the auto industry are getting a piece of the autonomous car movement. This dream continues as robotics has dominated the news cycle with discussions around safety, ethics, and city development.

What Are The Advantages Of Autonomous Cars?

Unlike a decade ago, self-driving cars have moved from merely a dream to reality within our reach. While local lawmakers and city officials create laws to govern autonomous cars, several groups are looking at how this advanced technology can help groups of people in our population like the elderly, blind, and deaf individuals in our community. As we discuss the future of self-driving vehicles we should also consider how emerging autonomous technology can help groups who have been restricted from traditional transportation options. This piece of the discussion can help shape how, when, and where autonomous car technology can be implemented to have the largest impact on our communities.

Autonomous Cars for the Elderly

When people get older, they often lose the ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. This is the result of several physical changes that occur in the body like reduced eye-sight, loss of hearing, or slower reflexes. A driver needs to be able to use all of their senses to operate a motor vehicle safely, and unfortunately, many Americans lose the privilege to drive a car on their own. This usually means that people who have had mobility their entire life are suddenly reduced to taking taxicabs, city buses, or relying on other people for rides. Losing the ability to drive not only reduces a person’s sense of freedom, but it can also have an impact on their ability to visit the doctor, see their family, or even go grocery shopping. However, autonomous cars that navigate themselves can allow the elderly to live out their lives with more freedom and take their vehicle places without compromising the safety of other people on the road. They are one of the most prominent groups that will benefit from the following standard of self-driving cars, and community leaders will need to find ways to integrate autonomous cars into the lives of this demographic to maximized benefits of the technology.

Autonomous Cars For Those With Disabilities

Those with disabilities have long since been in a significant disadvantage when it comes to operating motor vehicles. Traditional vehicles were built to be operated by drivers with good eyesight and hearing to take in their surroundings on the road. In addition, cars are engineered to use peddles on the ground for acceleration and braking, and hands to use the steering wheel. There have been accommodations made for some of those disabilities, but many individuals have found it difficult to operate a modified vehicle due to financial or physical restrictions. There are a variety of disabilities out there, and even the simplest could benefit from a self-driving vehicle. For example, those that can drive a car but have difficulty getting from the car to the store could benefit from autonomous operation because their car could drop them off at the store entrance and then go park itself. Self-driving technology the ability of individuals with physical and mental disabilities to regain their independence. State and local advocacy groups will likely work with their constituents to find ways to bring autonomous vehicles to these demographics to have a wider impact on the community.

Autonomous Cars Could Benefits Everyone

The leading group of people that may benefit from autonomous vehicles is not just elderly or disabled because this technology will have a significant impact on how we live our lives. There is no doubt that people are terrible at driving and that human error leads to unnecessary injury and death. Every year, 1.25 million people die in auto accidents and nearly all of them are caused by human error. People get distracted when they are driving; they drive when they are tired, many people drive when they are impaired by drugs or alcohol even when such activity is against the law, and others make poor decisions when driving. Millions of injuries could be prevented, and lives could be saved by only taking the human being out of the equation.

Will Self Driving Cars Help Improve Our Lives?

The bottom line is that there are multiple groups of people that will benefit from autonomous vehicles. Bringing self-driving technology to the masses will open opportunities for these groups to regain their independence and improve their lives without risking the safety of the general public. Autonomous vehicles are not only promising for the elderly or disabled because everyday people can see major benefits. Rather than spending an hour or more in traffic on the way to work and back, people will be able to travel only the amount of time it takes to go from their home to their job due to the elimination of congestion by self-driving vehicles. Special interest groups and advocates will need to work with local lawmakers to develop regulations that will bring the benefits of self-driving cars to all groups of people in a safe manner. The future looks bright for our cities as autonomous technology is used in different areas of operation!
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Author: Chris Giarratana

Chris is a Digital Media Strategy and AdWords management consultant in Orlando, FL. He develops marketing strategies for small businesses, researches emerging technologies, and enjoys studying transportation issues.

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