Exchange of Death with Autonomous Vehicles

Something I briefly brought up in class is agency in vehicle related deaths and how it changes with autonomous driving cars. I will acknowledge that ultimately people are expected to pay attention and be accountable for the car while the auto-pilot is on, however the action is still the vehicle killing a human (the vehicle accelerating itself into a tractor trailer killing the driver). Most vehicle deaths currently feature the vehicle as the tool or medium in which a person was killed by another person. How would opinions on driving change if a hypothetical 10,000 deaths from drunk drivers were prevented while 1,000 new deaths are caused by glitches in the vehicle itself?

One thing that I think is worth considering is the nature of vehicle deaths. If a function similar to the activity we did in class was ever implemented is it really ethical to kill an obese old woman legally going through a crosswalk if it saves a family of four in the vehicle? Perhaps the death toll is reduced to a quarter of what it would have been otherwise but is forcing someone who did nothing incriminating to bear the burden of the family that did not have their vehicle in proper condition the proper action? Since it is their property, the vehicle, along with all its failures, should in be their burden. Ultimately the value of a life is put on a scale against other life in a way that we do not currently have to face.

While these are serious issues that I think are worth contemplating I do believe that successful auto-piloting would be a great addition for a society where so much death is caused with vehicles, namely drunk and texting driving deaths.