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Letter: Driverless cars won’t text, drink or rage

California Gov. Jerry Brown, front left, rides in

California Gov. Jerry Brown, front left, rides in a driverless car to a bill signing at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 25, 2012. Credit: AP / Eric Risberg

In “Driverless cars a lethal way to travel” [Opinion, March 7], journalist Eric Peters raises concerns about driverless cars. Given the rapid developments in this field, his points are worth examination.

Peters is concerned that computers controlling driverless cars might go “on the fritz.” This is understandable. Computers, like any man-made machine, can fail. Although safety measures can be built in to reduce errors, they will never be zero.

We shouldn’t compare vehicles to perfection, though. We should compare them to what we currently have. Humans are far from infallible, and human drivers go on the fritz every day. Computers don’t text, eat or put on makeup while driving. They don’t drive while drunk or on drugs. Computers also don’t get tired and veer off the road, nor do they display road rage.

Approximately 32,000 people die in the United States every year as a result of human-controlled motor vehicles, and millions more have accidents. Google has been testing a small fleet of self-driving vehicles. They logged more than 1.3 million miles before suffering a single minor accident for which the car could be faulted. These are the results with prototype technology, and results will get significantly better as manufacturers learn and improve.

Michael Melgar, Glen Head

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