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Opinion

The roads will be safer with more self-driving cars

Tesla’s autopilot feature in action
The president of the Los Angeles Tesla Club drives using autopilot on the 101 freeway near Sherman Oaks on July 1.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Driver error — the leading cause of car accident-related injuries — causes 94% of U.S. vehicle crashes. But adaptive driver assistance technologies, including self-driving vehicle technology, will save thousands of lives each year. (“It’s time to tap the brakes on self-driving cars,” editorial, July 11)

Recent incidents involving Tesla’s autopilot feature raise questions about whether these technologies should be fielded before full government regulation. The self-driving car will revolutionize mobility and democratize transportation, offering newfound independence to countless seniors and the visually-impaired. To do so, this technology must be tested and evaluated based on real-world conditions.

Airbags were introduced over a decade before they were regulated. Early designs weren’t as safe as today’s versions, but they improved over time through industry collection and analysis of crash data. Similarly, self-driving technologies are now in a critical stage of development — this is not the time for arbitrary regulations.

Gary Shapiro, Arlington, Va.

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The writer is president and chief executive of the Consumer Technology Assn.

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To the editor: As a 71-year-old driver of a Tesla Model X, I realize that the car’s so-called autopilot is a tool available to me. Never would I drive without my hands on the wheel. 

Autopilot does not recognize road hazards, stop lights or stop signs. If I can understand that, why is it so hard for others to do the same? 

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Joni Duzy, Sierra Madre

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