As Washington traffic approaches pre-pandemic levels, law enforcement grapples with an increase in deadly traffic accidents. While officials saw worrying numbers of drivers speeding and driving recklessly in 2020, accident data shows that drivers continued to speed well into 2021. As we approach spring 2022, the trend continues.
In Seattle, traffic accidents are especially concerning to pedestrians.
In 2021, city officials saw a considerable uptick in deadly crashes, with pedestrians in the Emerald city suffering greatly as a result. But in 2022, safety advocates argue, self-driving companies like Amazon’s Zoox could be putting more Seattle pedestrians in danger.
Self-Driving Tech: Friend or Foe?
According to the firm’s website, Zoox is built with safety in mind.
By adopting a proactive approach, the technology is reportedly designed to prevent 94% of crashes caused by human error. To transportation safety advocates, however, firms like Zoox are not yet ready to keep pedestrians safe.
“They’re using pedestrians as guinea pigs in an experiment that can be deadly,” Angie Schmitt, the author of “Right of Way,” said. “We would never allow experimental drugs to be tested this way on people who have not explicitly consented, but for some reason, we just haven’t applied the same sort of ethical parameters to cars.”
In order for us to make up our mind about the safety and viability of a self-driving future, it seems, we will have to be convinced that the technology’s benefits outweigh its risks.
Drivers Are Not Ready for Autonomous Cars
According to data analyzed by Policy Advice, nearly 43% of people in the US don’t feel safe in a driverless car. In spite of the great number of Americans admitting they have yet to warm up to the idea of a self-driving future, industry experts estimate that 33 million autonomous vehicles will hit the road by 2040. Until then, firms like Zoox will have to work harder to win over the hearts of pedestrians everywhere, especially in Seattle.
As the firm uses the city’s downtown as testing grounds, it is important that its technology is responding well to the challenges that are faced by Seattle drivers on a daily basis. Anything short of this would mean that autonomous car makers are not serious about boosting safety and preventing crashes.