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Nashville transit leaders embrace driver-less cars in push to improve traffic woes

(FOX 17 News)

Driverless cars might someday be the answer to less traffic and safer roadways, according to industry experts along with those that are studying the technology.

“One of the things I talk about when I talk to people about traffic and the mathematics of it, I mention there have been studies that show there are phantom traffic jams that pop up just because people are reacting to each other,” said Andy Miller, professor of Mathematics and Belmont University.

Miller said one way scientists study this is by observing people driving in a circle and they compare it to what it would be like to have at least one driver-less car in that circle.

“And just the presence of one car that’s doing a better job of slow braking and pacing itself reduces the fake traffic jam in the circle,” Miller said

“I think that is a technology that is coming online the auto manufacturers are telling us it could be here as early as next year,” said Erin Hafkenschiel, the director of Mayor Megan Barry's Office of Transportation and Sustainability.

Hafkenschiel said the hope and dream of autonomous vehicles is that it would make driving much safer.

"But at the same time, it’s actually more a rule of geometry than a rule of technology," Hafkenschiel said. "A car, whether it’s being driven by a human or by a robot, potentially cars could move closer together, and that would help relieve some of the capacity issues on our roadways."

Not everyone is on board with letting go of the wheel.

“At this moment, I’m not in support of driver-less cars,” Elvira Jones said. "I would feel better if I was in control of the vehicle."

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