Self-Driving Cars and Road Rage
It may sound unreal, but more self-driving cars could be on the road as soon as next year. Elon Musk promises that every Tesla manufactured by the end of 2017 will be capable of autonomous driving. By eliminating the human element, can you also eliminate the potential for road rage? The research says that is unlikely.
Road rage occurs when one driver feels they have the power to dominate another. So how does that translate when an aggressive driver encounters an autonomous car? Self-driving cars are designed to react to changes in weather, obstacles, and pedestrians, but are they wired to respond to unpredictable human behavior?
Goodyear and the London School of Economics recently collaborated to conduct a study of more than 12,000 people from 11 different countries. The study assessed “driver sociability” with a series of questions. Participants were asked to share their feelings about sharing the road with self-driving cars.
According to the study, some drivers were actually eager to take advantage of the self-driving car’s adherence to traffic laws. Over 40 percent of drivers in the study said they would be uncomfortable sharing the road with self-driving cars. Surprisingly it was the less-social drivers that were more excited about self-driving cars.
Aggressive Drivers May Antagonize Self-Driving Cars
The theory is that more aggressive drivers are likely to challenge or bully autonomous cars. Drivers may try to outsmart or challenge self-driving cars in an attempt to prove they are better than a machine. One participant acknowledged that he would try to cut off self-driving cars that were stopped where they were supposed to be.
Until every car is autonomous, angry and aggressive drivers will always exist and cause road rage car accidents. While self-driving cars are designed to be more cautious, obeying every traffic law, frustrated and belligerent drivers will capitalize on that. Even with the space-age technology allowing cars to drive themselves, car accidents due to road rage still seem to be unavoidable.
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