Autonomous cars – safe or dangerous?

The automotive sector is undergoing considerable changes related to the improvement of safety on the roads. The car companies are constantly inventing new ways and tools that enable road users avoid accidents and decrease the crash rate. In addition to this, car manufacturers are designing the cars, which can facilitate driving as much as possible, or even drive by themselves.

The company that is the most well-known and recognized for producing almost autonomous cars is Tesla. It can boast with a wide range of cars equipped with mechanisms and technologies many drivers have not yet heard about. Among them we can distinguish front collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping, lane assist or auto-steer. However, the most popular technology that Tesla cars use is Autopilot. This feature is an absolute hit, which earned Tesla a world-wide fame. It is currently the only car manufacturer in the world that promises us a drive without human input.

However, Tesla’s reputation was undermined in March 2016, when the first car equipped with Autopilot crashed in Mountain View. The company owner, Elon Musk, is outraged by the fact how media overstated the case (https://arstechnica.com/cars/2018/05/sorry-elon-musk-theres-no-clear-evidence-autopilot-saves-lives/). In his opinion, undermining the trust in technologies ensuring safety on the road, like Autopilot does, is detrimental to the safety of road users, since the crash rate of cars equipped in this system is a few times smaller than other vehicles.

Despite all those disputes that arose as a consequence of the crash in March 2016, it is impossible to stop the tech-savyy cars from getting on the roads. In all likelihood, until 2025 all cars manufactured in the US will be equipped with driver-assist technologies or even in the system that let the car drive autonomously, only under the human supervision. Google is even planning to introduce driverless taxi services.

But do all those benefits really save lives? Or are there any disadvantages of using them? Well, part of experts claim that the exploitation of driver-assistance systems makes the driver less careful on the road. When the motorists trust too much in technological developments, it can have fatal consequences. They lose full vigilance, which can lead to a crash. The experts often use the Mountain View Crash to confirm this thesis.

Of course, the opinion of the owner of Tesla company is totally different. Elon Musk claims that cars equipped with Autopilot have a lower crash rate and are safer than those driven by humans, and the publicity over the Mountain View crash may cause that drivers will be afraid to buy and use the system, which will in turn translate into more accidents. The US Government found that autonomous cars reduce crash rate by 40 percent.

Despite controversies related to the topic of driver-assistance technologies, many drivers (especially those who can afford it) want to know what safety features a particular vehicle has, and it often affects their purchasing choice. Tesla is the only company manufacturing cars that are able to drive by themselves, but the cars of many other manufacturers are equipped with various safety benefits. However, there are so many models available on the market and each car goes under so many modifications, that it is very difficult to verify the safety features of the one we are interested in. But here the automotive data providers like ESP Data Solutions can help. They offer vin decoding services, owing to which we will be able to obtain such information like the type of engine, number of previous owners or number of crashes. In addition, vin data can provide us with the information on extra benefits the car has, for instance whether it is equipped with lane assist, auto-steer, autonomous driving or front collision warning technologies. Unfortunately, the information we are provided with by the seller do not always match the real data about the vehicle, so the vin decoding may turn out to be extremely helpful when purchasing the car.

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