The Great Road Safety Lie About Driverless Cars

Analysis driverless cars: Europeans to be infantilised because the rest of the world cannot drive.

Also, a quick look at the new rule on tinted windows in France, some bittersweet news on road safety, and another clash between migrants and police at Calais; tragic runaway truck crash in Luxembourg.



Why introduce autonomous cars in Europe if the objective is to save 1.2 million lives?

Autonomous driving

We are constantly told driverless cars will save the 1.2 million lives lost in traffic accidents around the world each year.

Few have put it quite so forcefully as Mat Honan, Buzzfeed’s San Francisco bureau chief.

‘Go fuck a tailpipe if you love cars so much,’ he wrote after riding in one of Google’s autonomous cars last month. ‘Your love for cars doesn’t supersede the lives of 1.2 million people who die in automobile accidents every year.’

Apart from being unbearably self-righteous, this is possibly the most specious argument ever deployed.

If un-crashable self-driving cars were introduced to the UK¹ tomorrow they would save 0.136% of the global death toll.

If they were introduced in the whole of the EU tomorrow they would save just over 2%.

Admittedly the US would be more fertile ground. Quite how one of the world’s most advanced, developed and richest countries comes to have such a lamentable road safety record is a subject for another day.

Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, it is less safe to drive in America than Poland².

The latter has of course long been known as the European bad boy on road safety.

The state of safe driving in America however pales beside the situation in other parts of the world.

If driverless advocates and investors really were serious about saving lives they would be laying cables in South Africa, for instance, where 132,000 people die on the roads each year, or India (238,000) or China (275,000).

The fact that they aren’t, and instead target the paltry 5% of worldwide road deaths in the developed, western world shows that it isn’t about road safety at all.

The move towards driverless cars is purely and simply about technology in search of a home, peddled by some extremely passive-aggressive salespeople.


¹ For context, around 1700 people die on the UK’s roads each year compared to 6000 fatal accidents in the home according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Around 27,000 people are killed on the roads in the EU each year. ² According to WHO figures, there are 10.3 road deaths per 100,000 of population in Poland compared to 10.6 in the United States. The UK is 2.9.


Tinted glass is outlawed in France from 1 January 2016, but for the front windows only reports Prevention Routiere. The fine

To be clear: tinted glass is outlawed in France from 1 January 2016, but for the front windows only. The fine is €135 says Prevention Routiere. Photo Paris 2015, @DriveEurope.


roundup: CALAIS MIGRANTS clashed with police overnight for the second day running. Trouble centered on the N216 access road into the port, right beside ‘the Jungle’ camp. The road was blocked until late morning, and J47 off the A16 autoroute, with all vehicles diverted through the town. Unlike yesterday, there are no reports of any injuries – so far – though France 3 Nord published a photo of a truck with its windscreen smashed in. LUXEMBOURG. Tragic accident on the eastbound A6 at Strassen last night when a truck driver was thrown from the vehicle during a crash. He died instantly according to while his Spanish registered truck continued down the carriageway for a further kilometre before coming to a halt. There were no other vehicles involved or any other injuries. FRANCE. Road deaths increased by a significant 7.2% last month compared to October 2014 though the figures include the 43 fatalities in the Puisseguin coach crash late last month. Without those, road deaths would have fallen by 5.2%. The overall increase in road deaths in 2015 stands at 2% according to the release from Securite Routiere, slightly up on September which had seen the first significant cut in fatalities in a so far torrid year.


Have Your Say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s