Autonomous Vehicles Not Favoured by Nader
Car manufacturers and proponents of self-driving technology as the next stage in vehicle safety have been given a bit of a reality check by none other than Ralph Nader. In a recent statement, Mr. Nader has suggested that autonomous vehicle features will exacerbate problems by drivers who are not paying attention to the road.
In a recent interview with Automotive News, the recognized author suggested that car manufacturers are trying to turn vehicles into entertainment venues and mobile offices, with technology that cannot potentially deal with emergency situations. He further went on to state that by removing a driver from the responsibility to drive will minimize a driver’s experience and ultimately their ability to deal with a potential emergency situation. Specifically, Mr. Nader stated,
“The driver is losing control to the software, and the more the driver loses control to the software, the less the driver is going to be able to control the car down the road.”
Autonomous Vehicles Can’t Replace Driving Skills
The comments from Mr. Nader come on the 50th anniversary of his work, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile. Mr. Nader’s work has been credited with pressuring car manufacturers to focus on the safety of vehicles and not on the styling of automobiles. As an example, lawmakers passed legislation to ensure seat belts became a standard feature on vehicles.
Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has insisted on automatic emergency braking features for autonomous vehicles and has not of yet implemented sweeping rules for fully self-driving vehicles. The agency has, however, acknowledged technical and human performance issues associated with autonomous vehicles that need to be addressed and resolved before autonomous vehicles are rolled out en mass.
Those who are advocates of autonomous technology disagree with Mr. Nader’s comments, arguing that collision-avoidance systems that are currently implemented in vehicles already save lives. Young Drivers of Canada teaches its students the skills to drive. If autonomous vehicles become the norm, our students will have the skills to react to emergency situations. Driving will never go away and the skills that are learned will always be with drivers. The goal is to ensure those skills are used!