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Driverless technology has become more prevalent amongst new cars currently on the market, with manufacturers embracing systems such as self-parking assist, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking.
Despite recent polls revealing that Brits are still worried about not being safe behind the wheel of a driverless car, makers of autonomous cars such as Tesla, Apple, Audi, Volvo and Google are investing heavily in automated technology in a bid to put driverless cars on the road as soon as 2033, with Ford announcing its launch even earlier in 2021.
UK trials of automated and driverless cars are currently taking place in Bristol, Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry, but the question still remains, can we fully trust a self-driving car?
Below, Trusted Dealers takes a look at some of the safety benefits of driverless cars.
Over 90 per cent of all motor accidents are caused by human error according to recent reports. Driverless cars are designed to eliminate these mistakes. They use a range of sensors designed to constantly monitor their surroundings, and could therefore substantially reduce the number of collisions, deaths and injuries on the road. Furthermore, automated systems could eliminate bad driver habits such as tailgating and middle lane hogging which can lead to accidents.
Autonomous cars could provide alternative transport for those people who do not have a driving licence or access to a vehicle, or are currently unable to drive through disability or age. Vulnerable people could be made mobile again, free to make trips to the shops or enjoy days out, enhancing their quality of life.
The average driver in England spends 235 hours driving every year. That is the equivalent of six working weeks. Drivers will be able to choose whether they want to be in control, or hand the task to the vehicle itself, allowing drivers to safely use the journey time however they wish, from reading a book, to surfing the web, watching a film or just chatting face to face with other passengers.
By eliminating human error, automated cars could slash death rates on the roads, with insurers saying they could do even more to save lives than the invention of the seatbelt. James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers, said; “More than 90 per cent of road accidents happen because of human error and automated technology will take a lot of the risk off the roads. Fewer accidents means fewer people killed and injured, and that should lead to cheaper premiums.”
Driverless cars could also force fraudsters off the roads. The UK continues to suffer from an epidemic of “crash for crash” scams and bogus whiplash claims for compensation. This costs motorists £2.5billion a year, adding £93 to the average insurance premium, according to insurer Aviva.
Driverless vehicles will offer the promise of better use of road space, reducing congestion and providing more consistent journey times, through the use of “connected vehicle” technologies that enable cars to communicate with each other and their surroundings to identify the optimum route to minimise fuel consumption and emissions.
In May this year, a man died behind the wheel of a Tesla autonomous car in the US. Tesla has since accepted that the system is “not perfect” and “still requires the driver to remain alert” with both hands on the wheel at all times.
At present, as driverless technology continues to be tested and advanced, it is expected that collisions will still happen, and that depending on the nature of them they could be significant.
In response to the accident, Tesla points out that its cars have travelled 130 million miles prior to the accident, whereas a fatality typically occurs every 94 million miles driven on US roads or 60 million driven on the world’s roads.