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Autonomous Cars Will Save Thousands of Lives per Year in the US

Each year over 30,000 people die from traffic accidents in the United States. With 11.4 annual traffic deaths per 100,000 people, the US appears to have more dangerous roads than the UK, Germany, Japan, Italy, or the Philippines.

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The graph above is skewed, however, since on average Americans drive more often than their foreign counterparts. To account for this, deaths per mile driven is a more representative statistic. The table below shows that even by this metric, the US ranks 19th in safety out of the 32 countries with available data.1 Compared to other developed countries, US roads are more dangerous to drive.

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Since over 90% of all accidents are caused by human error, the US will greatly benefit from autonomous cars. Computers react fifteen times quicker than humans, they do not text, drive drunk, become distracted, or daydream. As a result, robotic vehicles make better drivers than their human owners. The following graph shows the economic value of autonomous cars:

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Sadly, a majority of the tens of thousands of people who die in car accidents in the US are young and full of potential. The loss of life is devastating, and on average costs America over $50 billion per year in future contribution.2 This amount is equal to half the value of the domestic auto industry, or the entire GDP of Rhode Island.

Autonomous cars will save lives, prevent injuries, and stimulate the country by adding $50 billion annually back to the economy. Within a decade, expect to see models from Tesla TSLA, Google GOOG, Volvo VOLVY, and General Motors GM, among others. Each brand will have varying levels of autonomous features, but overall will be less reliant on human drivers, the source cause of a vast majority of the danger on today’s roads.

  1. We compared countries with GDP over $200B, then looked at those countries which had available data for miles driven.
  2. Calculated as PV x (number of deaths/year) where i =GDP per capita growth, n = (Life Expectancy – Avg Traffic Death Age), payment = GDP per capita

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