Self-Driving Cars Could Make Roads Safer

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Most drivers have done it before, taken a wrong turn or nearly missed hitting another car on the road. Self-driving cars could help prevent those things from happening.

"It's just vehicles sending out information about their location and where they're going," said Jim Sayer, a research scientist at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Jim Sayer is among a group of researchers at the University of Michigan working on automated car technology. These cars function by sending and receiving signals from the vehicle's environment. By knowing where a car is located on the road in relation to it's surroundings, the car can prevent swerving out of a lane or potential collisions.

"Like most things the more information you have the better decisions you can make," Sayer added.

With this new technology drivers can have more awareness of who they're sharing the roads with. Even smartphones can communicate with self-driving cars letting a driver know if there's a pedestrian and hopefully avoiding an accident.

"The US Department of Transportation estimates that 80 percent of all crashes in the US could be addressed by this technology," Sayer said.

Many car accidents are caused by distracted drivers, but with this technology in place it should help prevent those accidents.

"The long-term vision of it is cars that refuse to crash," said MDOT Director Kirk Steudle.

Another hope is that these cars can help send information about road conditions, helping to keep roads safer.

Steudle listed the possible uses, "where is it slippery, where do we need to deploy maintenance crews, what's the roughness, where are the potholes?"

While autonomous cars may change the way we travel, not everyone is sure this technology will be right for them.

"I don't know how much I trust a car to totally do all the driving for me," said Orlandis Darling of Novi.

You won't have to worry about that for a while, Sayer says drivers will still have to be attentive behind the wheel.

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