Autonomous Changes the Way We build
Could the way vehicles operate change the way roads and other infrastructure are built in the future? New research shows a shift toward more autonomous driving, due to the increased safety—and it could change the way the construction industry does business in the future.
Research by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.) has shown that vehicle crashes are almost always caused by driver error. For instance, when a sample of 5,470 crashes was investigated over a period of two-and-a-half years, NHTSA said drivers were responsible about 94% of the time, while a vehicle component’s failure or degradation was responsible for about 2% of crashes, and environmental factors, such as inclement weather and slick roads, were to blame for another 2% of crashes.
Autonomous vehicles will reduce the opportunity for driver error due to distraction, poor decisionmaking, and inadequate response times by leveraging sensors and V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communications technology to avoid accidents and keep passengers safe. However, autonomous vehicles won’t rule the road for many years to come. In the meantime, there will be several decades of road sharing between vehicles that fall everywhere on the autonomous spectrum. During this transition period, human operators will drive their vehicles alongside self-driving cars, and, therefore, human error will continue to cause accidents.
A new report from the GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Assn.) urges the industry not to overlook the role humans will continue to play in road safety, even as autonomous technology begins to take hold. After all, the transition from human-operated vehicles to autonomous vehicles won’t be sudden. Vehicles will feature increasingly autonomous capabilities that will allow humans to step in and act as needed or desired. For this reason, distraction and poor decisionmaking will still be a factor in road crashes for the foreseeable future, and the GHSA is urging states to continue to invest in programs that prioritize safe driving behaviors.
In fact, the increasingly autonomous nature of vehicles may introduce new issues and the need for new education efforts and state legislation. For instance, on the legislation side of the coin, states may consider laws requiring a licensed driver to be present in AVs (autonomous vehicles) in case a human operator needs to assume control of the vehicle. Law enforcement policies and procedures may also need to be adjusted to accommodate the new nature of roadways.
Autonomous vehicles will require new efforts in many areas, including construction. The way we build our roads will change, with the advent of new vehicle technology. Construction companies will need to become well-versed in V2X technology, standards, and regulations to be aware of the changes that are coming.
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