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Curb pedestrians or driverless cars?

Even automated vehicles may be in a jam if all pedestrians become jaywalkers.

ET Bureau|
Aug 16, 2019, 07.54 AM IST
0Comments
Agencies
pedestrian
If all jaywalkers celebrate the end of restrictions by stepping off the curb at the same time and at any place, cars will grind to halt, driverless or not.
One of the tempting scenarios proffered for the advent of ‘autonomous vehicles’ (AVs) is that jaywalking — an offence in many countries — would simply then become ‘walking’. That is because unlike reckless, drunk, sleepy, cellphone-absorbed or careless human drivers, AVs will always remain alert and programmed to detect if pedestrians are about to step on to the road and slow down accordingly. That the very human trait of heading straight for the shortest route regardless of zebra crossings, may finally be decriminalised is a most welcome prospect as anti-jaywalking laws are more honoured in the breach than in the observance anyway. But any civic authority that thinks ‘legal’ jaywalking will cause minimal additional disruption in the era of driverless vehicles couldonce again make the mistake of disregarding human nature.

If all jaywalkers celebrate the end of restrictions by stepping off the curb at the same time and at any place, cars will grind to halt, driverless or not. The only advantage of the former over the latter in such situations is that an AV would not swear at jaywalkers. Just as suggestions to ‘reprogram’ pedestrians to meekly stick to designated crossings is bound to fail, even an AV’s equanimity clearly cannot be guaranteed given that a woman was recently killed by a driverless cab in the US.
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