TMCnet Feature
February 25, 2020

Would you feel your children were safe in a driverless car?

The driverless car revolution is said to be on the horizon, with the government saying it's on track to have fully self-driving vehicles on the UK's roads as soon as 2021.

But how would you feel about travelling in one of these vehicles, and would you trust one with your child’s safety?

If you feel apprehensive about these advancements, then you're not alone – Thales (News - Alert), a technology company, researched attitudes towards driverless cars and discovered that there are many apprehensions.

The research found that 57% of Brits would not feel safe travelling in a self-drive car. The same research revealed that almost a quarter of people described themselves as feeling 'apprehensive' while a fifth said they were fearful about being in a driverless car.

So, with automation advancing, should you feel worried about your children travelling in a driverless car? What are the benefits?

In February 2019, government ministers announced further trialling and stricter safety rules for those testing driverless cars. The implementation of firmer safety regulations is a comfort for those who are nervous about the technology.

In September, the future of transport minister George Freeman opened a new facility in Bedfordshire to test self-driving cars, showing that there's real investment behind the ambition. At the opening, Freeman commented:

"Self-driving vehicles can offer significant rewards for the?UK’s economy, road safety and accessibility. We are determined to lead in the testing and development of safe autonomous transport."

As the minister explained, this commitment towards automation comes from a need to improve road safety. So, safety and automation can be achieved together, as shown in a recent report on the potential impact of driverless cars.

In 2017, a staggering 70% of casualties reported from road accidents in the UK were caused as a result of driver error, according to the Department for Transport.

With this in mind, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) estimates that the implementation of driverless car technology can prevent 3,900 road deaths by 2030. The SMMT also says 47,000 serious collisions can be averted in the same time period.

Insurance premiums for young drivers are often much higher than those for drivers with more experience. Could the introduction of autonomy alter this for inexperienced motorists? After all, it may actually be safer for young drivers to have a self-driving vehicle.

When it comes to the economy, the SMMT also estimates that eliminating those accidents could save £2 billion. This number is huge, but only a small slice of the pie when it comes to the potential bonuses for the economy.

If the UK wins the race to pioneer mainstream driverless car technology, the SMMT predicts 420,000 new jobs could be created. That would create a staggering economic profit of £62 billion.

Combine the safety benefits with the economic reward and it’s clear that there should be a willingness to explore new technology.

The testing needs to be rigorous, infrastructure to be brought to optimal levels and extensive trials need to be conducted before driverless cars take to the road.

As it stands, there's real enthusiasm for the potential positives of autonomy alongside understandable apprehension, especially for parents. Manufacturers’ ability to mitigate these fears will be the true test of the movement’s success.

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