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Public Health, Ethics, and Autonomous Vehicles
With the potential to save nearly 30,000 lives per year in the United States, autonomous vehicles portend the most significant advance in auto safety history by shifting the focus from minimization of post-crash injury to collision prevention. I have delineated the important public health implications of autonomous vehicles and provided a brief analysis of a critically important ethical issue inherent in autonomous vehicle design. The broad expertise, ethical principles, and values of public health should be brought to bear on a wide range of issues pertaining to autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles, which could reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90% by eliminating accidents caused by human error—estimated to be 94% of fatalities—could save more than 29,000 lives per year in the United States alone.
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