...when they finally go big time, given that the white lines currently are used to guide them on multi lane roads.
No need to wait for autonomous vehicle.
Current safety devices use it already:
- Lane Departure Warning:
vehicle uses the contrast of white lines on dark asphalt to guess where the lane is, and can either alert the driver (e.g.: Volvo cars) or correct course (e.g.: BMW) to stay in the lane. The driver needs to explicitly switch on the turn signal to tell the car that he indeed intend to turn the car.
No lines, not easy for the car to tell what exactly the trajectory should be. Whereas humans can more or less guess based on the surrounding and know where the "virtual lane" should go (and TFA's idea is that this guess-work will force drivers to be more prudent and slow down. My own feeling is that the first 2 weeks, the drivers will be watchful, then they'll get used it, and then everything will be back to normal)
- Forward Collision Avoidance:
vehicle have a forward facing radar that can detect other vehicle in front. So the car can see if the other in front breaks (when they are both in the same lane, i.e.: a traffic jam) and automatically slow down the cruise control (and in some car, resume driving once the traffic jam clears and the car in front starts again).
Also, the cars can detect incoming vehicle or vehicle that are on a crash course and prevent by applying breaks.
For that to work, again the car's computer need to have some basic idea of where lanes are. Other wise, there's a risk that the car will hit the break, even if the stoped/slower vehicle was in another lane, or the incoming car is in the other half of the road (like in TFA's case).
It seems similar to what i believe they did in the netherlands where they removed any distinction between the road and the pedestrian areas which apparently slowed down traffic.
...well at least, pedestrian and cyclist collision avoidance (more usually called "City Safety" by constructor, and currently slowly becoming a strandard option on most vehicle in europe), is entirely Lidar-based or shape-recognition based.
(i.e.: the car doesn't stop on its own because you're dangerously close to a pedestrian area or a bicycle lane, but because it recognised the object in front of you).
So at least *that* idea isn't disrupting existing safety device. But still...
I'm more proponent of some European city which have buried some of their highway network underground.
I don't think that forcing people to think about the security themselves by removing safety marking will actually work on the long term.
I strongly suspect that people will slowly adapt and get used to the missing markings, and start driving as carelessly as before.
If you think about it, large swaths of road miss markings, specially in developing countries. And those countries aren't exactly known for lower incident rates (though other reason, like vehicles to broken to be road-safe, missing driving education, etc. are other factors in play).