In 1963, the United States saw more than 40,000 people killed in motor vehicle accidents. Unsurprisingly, Americans traveled more miles by car that year than any year before, more than 805 billion miles. Total car accident fatalities only fell below the 40,000 mark once between 1963 and 2007. Then, starting in 2008, the U.S. began an unprecedented run of eight years with fewer than 40,000 fatalities. That is despite Americans driving more 2,950 billion miles in each of those years. Unfortunately, the run of lower fatalities has ended. In 2016, deaths on U.S. roads once again rose over the 40,000 mark, according to the National Safety Council.
The fascination people have for the emerging technology of autonomous cars - cars that drive themselves - usually centers on the elimination of cars crashing into other cars.