It is unfathomable to think about a driver relaxing in the driver’s seat of a car, travelling down I-95 while reading a book. To many, that vision is the ultimate notion of distracted driving. However, in the next decade, this could be a regular occurrence. According to a recent study written by IHS Automotive, autonomous cars could be seen on American roads as soon as 2020.

There are several developments that give this prediction some weight. Internet giant Google has been testing and developing self-driving cars for a number of years. Last year it won the right to test cars on public roads in Nevada, and it is likely that other states will follow. 

Also, a number of new vehicles are being offered with crash avoidance systems that include lasers, radar and tiny onboard cameras that can help alert drivers to hazards that they may not see. Some cars are now equipped with automatic braking systems that will stop the vehicle before the driver can do so. As these innovations evolve, it is reasonable to see driver-less cars in the near future.

The experts who weighed in on the IHS article suggested that autonomous cars may be safer than vehicles driven by humans because they would not be subject to the same errors and tendencies that lead to accidents. As such, there would be fewer crashes and fewer lives lost. Indeed, this remains to be seen, but it is an interesting reminder of how important it is for drivers to use reasonable care while behind the wheel.

Source: LA Times.com, “54 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2035, study finds,” David Undercoffer, January 2, 2014