Hate Your Daily Commute? Self-Driving Cars May Soothe Your Rush Hour Woes

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If you live a considerable distance from your office, chances are you don’t generally enjoy your daily drive to work — even if you like what you do. In fact, 14% of Americans have changed jobs just to shorten their commute. But while flexible telecommuting and freelance positions have seemingly become all the rage, it won’t be too long before the solution to your lengthy travel time may actually lie in what kind of automobile you use: specifically, self-driving cars.

By 2018, experts estimate that the U.S. should have around 260 million cars on the road. The developers of autonomous automobiles are working tirelessly to make sure their vehicles are among them. Although some Americans are a bit hesitant to embrace the idea of self-driving cars, the technology holds all kinds of possibilities to improve road safety and may even reduce driver frustration.

One of the most annoying parts of the daily commute, especially in big cities, is the seemingly endless traffic jam. Not only can this congestion keep you from getting to work or home on time, but it can pose unsafe conditions when impatient drivers engage in risky behaviors. As one source points out, self-driving cars will actually be able to communicate with one another and adjust their travel speeds in accordance with what’s happening on the road ahead. This may help to reduce congestion and stress, but it will likely keep passengers safer, too.

Of course, the idea of self-driving cars has been applauded largely due to the possible improvements to safety overall. Potentially, their use would significantly reduce accidents caused by human error, like distracted driving, driving under the influence, poor driving skills, or blatant disregard for the rules of the road. While autonomous vehicles could reduce crash chances at any time, they could be especially important during rush hour, when a greater number of cars are on the road.

Another perk of the self-driving vehicle on your commute? The potential to actually begin your work before you arrive at the office. For most people, their commutes to and from work are essentially wasted time. It’s time lost that could be spent on working, sleeping, getting ready, or enjoying other activities. But because self-driving cars don’t rely on their occupants to watch the road and make quick decisions, you can make this time your own. You can use that time to eat, get ready, complete some last-minute work, or simply relax and enjoy the ride. That’s a luxury most commuters don’t ever get to experience.

A self-driving car may actually be able to save you money on fuel, too. That’s because this technology will be designed to perform in optimal ways. It’ll travel at the most sustainable speed and calculate the ideal stopping distance, both of which will help conserve gas use.

Of course, these technologies still need a considerable amount of further development before self-driving cars will be brought to market. In addition, widespread use of autonomous vehicles could impact everything from car insurance rates to driving-related jobs on which Americans rely to make a living. Still, the possibilities are exciting for many — especially those who would do anything to have a more pleasant drive to work every morning. For now, they’ll have to suffer through the bumper-to-bumper along with everyone else.