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Is New Orleans ready for the driverless car?

Imagine if a car could drive itself. One could nap on the way to work, program the car to pick up the kids from soccer practice or legally drive home after drinking too much. The possibilities would be endless. The rate of car accidents would likely decrease over the years and individuals could be more productive in the car.

What may seem like science fiction may actually be a reality for many New Orleans drivers by 2018. Companies like Google and a number of others are working diligently to perfect the driverless car for commercial use. As of now, Google has been testing several driverless cars on active roads. They claim to have had over 50,000 tested miles without human interaction or accidents. The tested car can also park itself, keep a safe distance from other cars and brake to avoid collisions. While not yet perfected, Google hopes to make the driverless car available to the public as soon as 2018.

As we ponder whether our society is ready for the driverless car, it is important to keep in mind that one of the most common causes of car accidents is human error. In fact, 90 percent of all accidents are caused by human error. Anything from speeding to drunk driving can be considered human error. The driverless car takes the error out of the situation. Could this mean a 90 percent reduction in car accidents, assuming everyone had a driverless car? Google hopes so; preventing accidents is one of the company's number one goals with the driverless car.

While not yet perfected, the driverless car shows noteworthy potential. However, for the time being, New Orleans residents must continue to suffer the traditionally human-driven automobile and the human errors that come with it. When human errors do cause an accident, negligent human drivers may be held accountable for the damages caused by their actions. Victims may wish to consult with a legal professional to determine the best strategy for moving forward with such a claim.

Source: PBS.org, "Are We Ready For Driverless Cars?" Ibrahim Balkhy, May 9, 2013

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