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Self-driving cars on the way

Posted On Tue, November 19, 2013

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met this week to discuss the future possibility of self-driving vehicles hitting U.S. streets. Recently, companies like Google have been testing autonomous cars, sparking debate over the technology.

Self-driving vehicles, which are currently on track to be released as early as 2020, have the ability to navigate around streets and highways without human control. Already, some elements of the technology are used by carmakers. Self-steering and highway lane control used in some high-end models have had great success so far in production. Other safety features that can alert drivers when they are steering outside their lane or are falling asleep already in existence still require human interaction to fix the problem and prevent a crash. However, self-driving cars would be able to correct and steer themselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five accidents was caused by distracted driving in 2010. Additionally, the number of accidents involvinginjury from texting and driving has skyrocketed over the last few years. Autonomous cars may be able to reduce the number of injuries and deaths by preventing distracted driving.

"This technology has significant potential to make transportation safer and more efficient," House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., told The Hill.

Shuster supported the technology, noting that it could have a huge impact on transportation safety as well as the economy. The effect could also extend into the insurance market, lowering rates by reducing the number of accidents per year and the risk of filing a claim.

"The cost of auto insurance is built around two things - the frequency of auto accidents, and their expense," said Insurance Information Institute President and Economist Robert Hartwig. "If self-driving cars become more of a reality on our roads, it is going to have a major impact on auto insurance."

While the future of self-driving cars is not yet set in stone, the committee hearings appeared to have positive support from lawmakers and is likely to move forward.

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