In a New York Times article titled “Cars Are Death Machines. Self-Driving Tech Won’t Change That,” Allison Arieff considers cars to be “death machines.” She laments the pain that car accidents have inflicted on members of her family while invoking many other examples to demonstrate a similar point. She also mentions her skepticism of self-driving cars without elaborating on that point.
Initially, I was dumbfounded by Arieff’s classification of cars as “death machines.” But upon further research, I do sympathize with her anger since cars have been the source of enormous pain for many people and families around the world. We, as a society, must make progress in limiting these dangers. However, I disagree with Arieff’s immediate dismissal of self-driving technology as it relates to making our roads safer.
You might be surprised to find out that 1.35 million people are killed on roadways each year globally, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given this, Arieff definitely has a factual basis for her argument. However, the painful truth is that humans are the ones behind the wheels of cars. According to the Auto Insurance Center, 81 percent of car accidents are the result of human error. Perhaps instead of focusing on proposals like congestion pricing, we should turn our attention to drivers. My solution to solving the issue of “death machines” might take the form of awareness campaigns for drivers that urge them to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phones. I agree with Arieff’s proposal to reduce speed limits and rethink land use. But ultimately, Arieff neglects the fact that humans are the true cause of deaths by cars.
I also take issue with the dismissal of self-driving technology as a possible solution to the lack of safety on our roads. Though Arieff fails to address this dilemma, she included her opinion on it right in the title of the article. I think that it’s problematic to automatically neglect the idea of self-driving cars simply because we are unsure of what that might mean for us in the future. With self-driving cars, computers would use algorithms to determine distance from other vehicles. This is beneficial because, as we all know, computers cannot get distracted from the task at hand. Though it may go unnoticed, self-driving technology has already pervaded the automobile industry in the form of self-parking and autonomous braking which have saved lives, as stated in an article by Esurance. However, this is not to say that the development of self-driving technology will completely solve the dangers of the road. Ultimately, humans will still have to control some functions of the car when driving it, so we must still focus our attention on driver awareness.
When pursuing solutions to pressing issues in civil society, I think it’s important to discover and analyze the root cause of that particular issue. What Arieff does in her article is wrong; she criticizes the cars and not the people that drive them recklessly, thereby ignoring the cause of this important issue and only focusing on a part of it.