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Advanced technology could lead to safer roads

The future might make traffic jams in Illinois a thing of the past. Automated vehicles could have the potential to regulate traffic more efficiently because they could travel close to each other safely. With 94 percent of crashes attributed to human error, computer-operated vehicles might significantly reduce the nearly 100 deaths that happen on roads nationwide every day.

Despite the shortcomings of human operation, computer programmers still have monumental tasks to grapple with before automated vehicles take over the highways. For example, an algorithm that governs a computer's decisions will have to know how to make choices among hitting a pedestrian, exposing passengers to harm or striking another vehicle. Although builders of automated vehicles promote their potential to vastly reduce accidents, some crashes will still occur. The assignment of liability for injuries and property damage will be greatly complicated when humans are not in control.

Although many technological and legal issues need to be addressed, major companies continue to invest heavily in driverless cars. General Motors purchased a startup company with self-driving software for $1 billion. Qualcomm spent $39 billion on NXP Semiconductors that has technology for automated vehicle computer chips. An Israeli company that manufacturers sensors for self-driving vehicles fetched $15 billion in a purchase by Intel.

The future of transportation operated by machines that never get distracted or send text messages while driving remains at the prototype stage. Until driverless cars become mainstream, humans will remain largely to blame for car wrecks. A person who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a negligent driver might find it advisable to have legal assistance when attempting to obtain a settlement from the at-fault motorist's insurance company.

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