Getting Road Ready

If you're waiting for your chance to own a self-driving car, you're going to have to keep waiting. However, if you live in the Phoenix area, you might at least get the chance to try one out.

Waymo, the self-driving car branch of Alphabet, is coming to Phoenix for trials, and it's looking for hundreds of riders. The company has already logged millions of miles in autonomous car testing in different cities, but now it wants to hit the road with ordinary people on board.

Interested residents of Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa can apply via a simple form on the Waymo website. If they're accepted, they'll be able to call a car using an app any time of day or night — the hours aren't limited in an effort to make the trial more realistic. Trips will be limited to the Phoenix area, though, so an autonomous cross-country jaunt isn't happening.

Accepted applicants won't be charged for their rides, and Waymo tells The New York Times it is looking to find a wide range of people with different lifestyles so they can get a fuller picture of how their autonomous cars would be used in practice.

Safety First

This critical next step in getting autonomous cars on the road puts us closer to safer rides for everyone.

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Human error causes 95 percent of all traffic fatalities, and of those, 41 percent are the result of “recognition errors” — that's Department of Transportation code for failing to pay enough attention or getting distracted. Those are problems self-driving cars just don't have.

We're probably still 15 or so years away from a time when self-driving cars comprise the majority of the vehicles on the road, but when they do, we can expect to see 32,000 lives saved each year and a drastic reduction in the number of motorcycle fatalities.

If you've ever driven in Phoenix traffic, you're probably already on the Waymo site right now. Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones who gets chosen to participate in this potentially life-saving trial.

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