Self-driving cars continued to make headlines recently. Google (Waymo) opened its early rider program in Phoenix, Arizona, to “hundreds” of residents “with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs.” Baidu open sourced its self-driving technology and said it’s on track to deliver self-driving cars by the end of 2020. And documents obtained by Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal revealed Apple has hired former NASA employees, robotics experts and ex-Tesla staffers to form part of its driverless car teams.
The news came during the National Safety Council’s Distracted Driving Awareness month. U.S. motor vehicle deaths in 2016 were estimated to be the highest in 9 years, with drivers saying they are comfortable speeding (64%), texting either manually or through voice controls (47%), driving while impaired by marijuana (13%) or driving after they feel they’ve had too much alcohol (10%). A 3-month analysis of 3-million anonymous drivers, who made 570 million trips and covered 5.6 billion miles, released earlier this month by Zendrive, found that in 88% of trips, drivers used their phones. On average, drivers spent 3.5 minutes per hour on their device—and Zendrive says that if you take your eyes of the road for 2 seconds, you increase your chances of collision by over 20 times.