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Driverless cars moving closer to production, but are they safe?

Over the last few years, much of the dialogue concerning advancements in vehicle safety technology has not necessarily revolved around airbags, seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, and other traditional devices that serve to protect passengers in car accidents. Rather, it has revolved around the possibilities posed by so-called driverless cars and how this technology may be hitting the road sooner than later.

Don't believe it?

Internet giant Google has already announced that it its own brand of driverless cars will be on the market by 2017 and declared just last year that none of its self-driving cars had been involved in a car crash in then-over 300,000 miles of driving.

Carmakers from Toyota to Mercedes have also unveiled their own plans for driverless cars and are currently in the process of honing the technology, while several states -- California, Florida and Nevada -- have already passed legislation permitting driverless vehicles on roads and highways.

As if all of this wasn't exciting enough, there is now growing discussion among some U.S. companies of someday using driverless trucks to make deliveries or drop people off at their homes.

While there is no question that driverless cars would produce immediate benefits -- reduced fuel consumption, less carbon emissions, decreased traffic congestion -- the issue is whether they are truly safe.

Proponents of the technology can obviously point to statistics on distracted driving as proof that driverless cars would indeed make the roads safer.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that over nine people are killed and over 1,000 are injured in car wrecks caused by distracted driving (talking/texting on a cellphone, eating, etc.) here in the U.S. on a daily basis.

Here, driverless cars would undoubtedly help reduce these rather shocking figures. However, questions still remain concerning the technology's ability to navigate inclement weather conditions, construction zones or even sudden traffic maneuvers by human motorists.

What are your thoughts on driverless cars? Would you trust the technology or do you prefer the wheel to be in your hands?

Those who have been injured in car accidents caused by negligent drivers here in New Jersey should understand that they can seek the justice they deserve and that they should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney.

Source: Forbes, "Are driverless cars the next delivery person for your business?" Lisa Wirthman, September 12, 2013

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