One of the biggest reasons that it has taken so long to train autonomous vehicles is the sheer number of calculations that the human brain has to make every millisecond in order to stay safe on the road. Though the reality is getting close and research has advanced insanely quickly in the past 5 years, a full regulatory acceptance—let alone consumer embrace—is going to require a lot of proof.
We’re Not Ready to Trust Robots on the Roads. But Who among Us is Infallible?
Understandably, consumer doubt is based on the somewhat incomprehensible amount of data that goes into processing driving decisions. According to Network World, a single autonomous vehicle will need to use 4,000 GB of data per day to do the same thing we do in a car.
While our brains can easily sense a traffic sign, pothole, or construction barrel, understand what it means and react nearly instantaneously, a vehicle will need to scan the surroundings, understand what each object is (regardless of condition), and then make the calculation. Pair this with the morality concerns of autonomous vehicles (e.g. the trolley problem), cybersecurity concerns, and the like, and widespread adoption may take years or decades.
But here’s the thing. Humans aren’t infallible. We have all made dumb mistakes on the road. Using a cell phone, trying to check something in the vanity mirror, or changing lanes without a signal—all contribute to the US seeing 6.5 million accidents, 1.9 million injuries, and 33,654 fatalities on the road in 2018.
Red Means Stop: A Basic Driving Rule
Knowing this, we as humans seem to miss one of the most basic elements of driving—something an autonomous vehicle has likely mastered a lot more than we should. Stop at red. If it seems simple, it’s because it was something we learned long before we sat in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, the statistics point to us having a less-than-stellar grasp of the concept.
That’s why the National Coalition for Safer Roads introduced the Stop on Red Week. Held every August, the annual Stop on Red Week 2020 culminated on August 8, and throughout the week, the NCSR shared the dangers and realities of red light running in an effort to enhance safety on the road.
What is Red Light Running?
In order to understand the dangers, we first must understand what it means to run a red light. According to the IIHS, Red Light Running is defined as the following:
“If a vehicle enters an intersection any time after the signal light has turned red, the driver has committed a violation. Motorists who are inadvertently in an intersection when the signal changes (waiting to turn left, for example) are not red light runners.
In locations where a right turn on red is permitted, drivers who fail to come to a complete stop before turning may be considered red light runners. Violations also include people turning right on red at intersections where doing so is prohibited.”
The Dangers of Red-Light Running
In 2018, 846 people were killed, and an estimated 139,000 were injured in crashes involving red-light running. Added to this, an estimated 11,877 people were killed between 2004-2018 in crashes related to red-light running according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
IIHS found that about half of red-light running crash deaths involve pedestrians, cyclists and occupants in vehicles struck by the red-light runners.
But it could have been much worse. Whether you like the programs or not, red light camera programs generate a lot of data, and one of the most egregious statistics is that more than 3.5 million drivers run red lights in the average year—and according to a 2018 national telephone survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 31% of respondents to a survey admitted to running a red light in the past 30 days.
Who Runs Red Lights?
Among drivers involved in 2018 fatal red-light running multiple-vehicle crashes, the red light runners were more likely than other drivers to be male, to be younger, and to have prior crashes or alcohol-impaired driving convictions. The red light runners also were more likely to be speeding or alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash and less likely to have a valid driver’s license.
Stay Safe, Stay Protected: Acadia Transportation Insurance
Red light running accidents are preventable, but they are just one of the many concerns faced by businesses working to protect workers and vehicles. You can’t control what someone else does on the road, but you can take steps to protect yourself in the event of an accident. With a variety of insurance options for businesses, we can help you reduce your exposure on the road by providing coverage for damage or injury in the event of an accident.
From transportation insurance options to business auto, our skilled team is ready to help you get prepared when heading out on the road. Learn more about our team and find an agent with our helpful tool.
Acadia Insurance is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.