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With self-driving Google cars, speed gets traded for safety

Most Californians are well aware of Google's project to develop fully autonomous vehicles. While many universities and private companies are working on perfecting the technology of self-driving cars, Google's efforts are especially noticeable, as their vehicles have already logged more than 1 million miles of test driving, most of which were on California roads.

So how do other drivers rate the performance of these vehicles? Do they fit right in? Do they make dangerous maneuvers? According to at least one eyewitness account, the vehicles appear to be very safe but they "drive like your grandma."

A motorcyclist in the Mountain View area shared his observations on a tech blog. By driving "like your grandma," he apparently meant that Google cars are “never the first off the line at a stop light, they don’t accelerate quickly, they don’t speed, and they never take any chances with lane changes (cut people off, etc.).”

If those are the worst things that can be said about the way these vehicles drive, Google is off to a great start. Given how many car accidents occur on California roads each year caused by impatient, rude and inattentive drivers, a slower and safer approach might be welcomed by many.

It's also important to remember that fully autonomous vehicle technology is still in its infancy. Even though vehicles like the Google car could become standard very soon, there's reason to believe that self-driving cars will someday be able to safely travel at speeds much higher than human drivers are allowed travel today.

Human error plays a role in the vast majority of car, truck and motorcycle accidents that occur today. Hopefully, if we can largely eliminate human error by taking humans out of the driving process, we could someday realize the dream of zero deaths or injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents.

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