A recent self-driving Uber vehicle collision that left a pedestrian dead provoked a national dialogue on urbanization, road safety, and technology. This accident highlights the challenges of road traffic injuries (RTIs) and risks of partially or fully autonomous vehicles. RTIs pose a significant economic and social burden, affecting middle-income countries most severely. The Harvard Global Health Institute examined prevention and responses to RTIs in a symposium entitled “Road Safety for All”. HSPH Dean Michelle Williams discussed the gap between knowledge and action in RTI response. Using India as an example, Piyush Tewari identified causes of RTIs, including road user behaviors, enforcement of traffic laws, and engineering of roads and vehicles, and the lack of quality post-crash care. Dr. Adnan Hyder discussed data collection in lower and middle-income countries and cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve pre and post-crash care.
Dr. Hyder identified cost-effective interventions that already exist – helmets, seatbelts, speed laws, child restraint laws – but are not fully implemented or enforced. If the technology of AV is ultimately safer – without the high risk of human error created through distracted driving and misjudgments – how can we shift the public response to the risks and improve the transition from manual to AV transportation?