Cars don't cause accidents; drivers cause accidents.
That's why so much research money has been spent to develop an intelligent highway system that takes the driver out of the equation.
I don't know many people who are excited about driving on our interstate system, which requires that you rivet your attention to the road for hours on end.
Sure, it's fun to enjoy an automobile on a twisting two-lane road, but most of our driving isn't done on that type of road. We seem to put the most miles on our vehicles in urban areas with primarily stop-and-go traffic.
It might be possible to create an interactive system for our vehicles that would allow us to have an autopilot function on expressways.
Researchers have experimented with autopilots for decades. And some of the features they've developed are coming to market. We already are seeing adaptive cruise control, in which your vehicle senses a car ahead of you and adjusts your speed to keep a safe distance. When you pull out to pass, it lets you resume your speed.
Radar braking is another element that could be part of an intelligent highway system.
I suspect lawyers will have a fit about allowing those devices in the United States, even though they are slowly becoming available here.
The original idea of an intelligent highway system required electronic devices embedded in expressways to guide the vehicles. But for an intelligent highway system to be successful in the next couple of decades, everything will have to be self-contained in the vehicle. That way, there would be no need to spend billions installing devices into the existing interstate system.
I enjoy driving, but having an autopilot would be a great option. I have no doubt that it will be a reality before long. But we'll still have to monitor the operation of the vehicle just as an airplane pilot does.
Technology hasn't eliminated the engineer on the railroad or the pilot in the plane. We'll still have to pay attention, but driving should be a lot easier and a lot safer when we all have an autopilot.