By: Devin Morrissey
Technology: Is it helping us or hurting us? When it comes to driving, this debate is alive and thriving. Does technology provide too much of a distraction for drivers, or has it helped us make progress toward safer roads? How much of the problem with technology is user error?
Automation in the form of self-driving cars brings a whole new slew of questions and ethical dilemmas to the forefront, like who is responsible for a crash when navigation is automated and how do self-driving cars choose between targets to avoid in a collision?
The relationship between driving and technology is all about finding balance between the pros and cons and making sure safety remains a top priority. Technology must be used responsibly because if it is not, it could lead to a dangerous situation for you as well as those you share the road with.
Technological Progress in Driving
There are many ways in which technology has contributed to progress in helping drivers stay safe on the road. Driver technology like blind spot assistance, radio volume limits, and seat belt reminders all help drivers be cautious and stay focused on the road.
Technology and apps that help limit cell phone use while in the car are also hugely important in today’s world. In this case, technology is both the problem and the solution. It can be very tempting to send a quick text to a friend or change Spotify playlists while you’re in a line of traffic, but even the smallest distraction could have consequences when you’re behind the wheel. Technology that turns off phone notifications while in the car can help drivers stay safe and mindful.
The Role of Technology in Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous parts of being on the road. Whether you’re touching up your makeup, trying to eat a sandwich with one hand and shift gears with another, or fiddling with the stereo dials on your dashboard, you’re putting yourself and others at risk when your focus is on anything besides operating your vehicle safely.
The fact that there’s often nothing more distracting than technology is the big argument for why technology is making distracted driving worse. Whether the distraction is visual, manual, or cognitive, anything that takes your focus away from the road can be lethal.
Of course, technology is also responsible for producing features like anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and GPS that can help mitigate the effects of distracted driving. In terms of whether technology has caused distraction or progress when it comes to driving, the answer is both. It is possible for something to be both the problem and the solution. Being aware of this can be helpful in maintaining safety on the road.
The Challenges of Automation
The buzz around self-driving cars or autonomous vehicles is huge these days — and for good reason. According to Ohio University, autonomous vehicles could help overcome the three major causes of vehicle crashes: drunk driving, speeding, and distraction. Autonomous vehicles could include buses, taxis, service vehicles, military vehicles, trains, and more. The possibilities seem endless.
However, for all the positives there are also downsides to consider when it comes to automation and driving. The unexpected downsides of self-driving vehicles include the possibility of the technology being hacked, a loss of jobs for professional drivers, and also the fact that they’re unaffordable.
There is also a host of ethical questions to tackle, like who takes the blame when a driverless car is involved in a crash and how an automated vehicle decides what (or who) to avoid in a collision. Leaving issues of life and death up to a computer can seem scary, but also has the possibility to take away the chance of human error in a situation like this.
Vehicles with human drivers crash every single day, causing death and destruction, but we often hear most about the crashes involving an automated vehicles. These accidents raise far more questions even though they happen less often. Many people believe the automated car companies and manufacturers need to take more responsibility when things go wrong.
As technology develops and automated cars gain more experience in a variety of situations, professionals hope that the likelihood of error will continue to decrease, making automated vehicles far safer on the road than cars with human drivers.
With the existence of droids that use cameras to detect and maneuver around different terrain, the possibilities seem endless for how they might navigate traffic patterns and contribute to the safety of self-driving cars and other automated vehicles in the future. For now, the ethics and safety questions remain, and likely will for some time as technology continues to advance.
The relationship between driving and technology comes down to one statement: Vehicle technology can help save lives if drivers know how to use it. Features that help drivers stay in their lane or provide added stability control are great. But technology is only helpful in the hands of responsible users and lethal in the hands of distracted ones.
Finding a way to balance the benefits of technology with the safety of not being consumed or distracted by it is key. Thinking about the link between technological progress, distracted driving, and automation and how they all affect each other can help us to better understand how to tackle these questions as the role of technology in our lives continues to grow.