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The Positive Social and Environmental Impact of Self-Driving Cars

Posted August 3, 2017

For years, the car of the future was typically described as a flying vehicle that drivers would “drive/fly” George Jetson-style to take the kids to school, go to work and pick up our groceries on the way home.

Nowadays, it seems like this vision has been mostly scrapped for another futuristic vehicle that’s already being test-driven on our roadways: the driverless car.

The driverless car, which is also known as a self-driving or autonomous vehicle, is exactly what the name implies — a car that doesn’t require a person in the driver’s seat to control it. In fact, some driverless cars, including the model Ford plans to develop in the near future, will not include a steering wheel or pedals, according to The Verge.

Here are a few trends that will help you to better understand how autonomous vehicles may impact our own driving habits, those of our kids and the environment.

Will Learning to Drive No Longer be a Rite of Passage?

In a not-so-future world with driverless vehicles, it could potentially be more dangerous for human-operated cars to be on the road simultaneously. As Arc notes, autonomous vehicles will have a pretty advanced level of connectivity, including Wi-Fi, GPS, radar and other systems and features that will allow these cars to communicate with each other and to their main infrastructure.

In other words, it might not be long before humans aren’t welcome behind the wheel, especially since our cars will likely not be synced to the driverless models. Believe it or not, the day may come when our teenagers no longer spend hours studying to earn their learner’s permits and driver’s license through the help of websites like — and then proudly post photos of their achievement on Instagram.

Instead, they may post selfies from the backseat of a self-driving car that’s taking them to their first day of high school.

The Eco-Friendly Benefits of Driverless Cars

As Greener Ideal notes, autonomous vehicles use much less energy and gas when driving, mainly because drivers’ bad habits that tend to gobble up gas will not be programmed into these cars. In particular, autonomous vehicles will operate by the rules of the road, which include following the posted speed limit and not peeling out when the traffic signal turns green — all things that will provide them with a “greener” way to get around.

Additionally, driverless cars may provide a means for families to own fewer vehicles, as one of these cars can take the kids to school, then drop off mom at work before taking dad to run errands before parking itself back at home. As Time magazine notes, self-driving cars may not need to be packed with heavy safety equipment that also burn up fuel.

Because autonomous vehicles should technically have amazing safety records, the things we take for granted that make our cars safe — like anti-lock brakes and systems that sense when we’re drifting into the next lane — may not be needed.


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