Feature: Parenting

We Can't Be Trusted

Author: Lorraine Esposito
Published: March 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm

According to Peter Stone, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas, life will be better when computers do the driving for us.  He cites a few spectacular statistics:

  • 95% of car crashes are caused by human error
  • ¼ happen at intersections
  • 1/3 of all accidents are fatal
  • 48 hours a year lost in traffic jams
  • $5 billion lost in fuel and productivity

Gee, it seems we just can’t be trusted behind the wheel and need computers to take control.  Didn’t I see this in I-Robot?

Not so fast Peter

I wanted to know more about the statistics quoted by Stone, but couldn’t.  His page at the University of Texas only lists a string of research papers dealing with robotics and robot soccer—not accident statistics.  So I looked around on my own.  I wonder if Stone considered that pedestrians and bicycles account for about 6% of fatal accidents or that you’re 3 times more likely to have an accident at an intersection with a flashing light than you are at a stop sign.  And what about the intersections without signs or lights?  I don’t believe the hype and I don’t believe the answer to anything will be found in taking away a person’s obligation to be responsible. 

Symptom vs. Source

Car crashes are problems but they aren’t the problem.  Perhaps finding solutions starts with a look at the reasons why people are irresponsible behind the wheel. 

  • Unable to delay gratification long enough to stop the car before texting. 
  • Can’t face the day without something to numb life so you were driving drunk.
  • Fear of losing your job has you distracted and you carelessly step in front of a car.
  • Can’t turn off the TV at night so you’re overly tired and nod off on the way to work.
  • Stress and frustration have your emotions near the boiling point making road rage easily triggered.

Continued on the next page

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Article Author: Lorraine Esposito

Lorraine Esposito is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Mentor Coach, nationally recognized author, and coach training instructor for the world’s largest coach training organization. She has been featured in broadcast, print, and online media and …

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