As with any new technological breakthrough, driverless cars have had their fair share of critics. While one might expect the elderly to be skeptical about placing trust in driverless cars, the concept still remains shaky even in the minds of the younger generations. A recent survey by AAA found that 75% of drivers were nervous about completely giving up the wheel to a computer.
Despite the fact that people have tended to harbor a general distrust towards cars that drive themselves, the average consumer seems to slowly show signs of experiencing a change in opinion as to how they feel about the technology. This gradual change has many proponents of driverless cars optimistic that the future will fully embrace driverless cars as the norm, not the object to be feared.
A Reason for Changing Opinions
While it is normal for people to fear new technology, the statistics concerning driverless car road performance, compared to cars with human drivers, speak for themselves. According to Techtimes, various Google cars were involved in 17 crashes over a 6-year period. A commissioned study, conducted by Virginia Tech on behalf of Google, indicated that none of the related car crashes were the fault of the driverless cars. The study, though not absolute proof that driverless cars are safer than human driven cars on the road, has provided some media fuel that has helped to affect change in public opinion towards driverless cars, helping to foster a more favorable outlook as driverless cars become more common to everyone's road experience.
While older members of society have defined themselves by the type of cars they own, millennials and members of the younger generations are less excited about exclusive car ownership. For the younger crowd, the idea of shared vehicle ownership, which is being more aggressively promoted with the emergence of driverless cars, has presented itself as a more appealing option—especially among low-wage earners.
The average car sits parked for 95% of its lifetime. This means it is just taking up space. Driverless cars, under a shared ownership program, significantly decreases the number of vehicles on the road and the amount of parking space needed to service parking needs. It is estimated that 10 to 30 cars are removed from the road for every driverless car used in a shared ownership scenario.
Since cars that are involved in shared ownership situations are constantly on the move, this eliminates the need for so many retail parking spaces and elaborate, high-capacity parking lots. Make no mistake about it, the real attraction of shared ownership with driverless cars is the cost savings and reduced environmental impact that gives driverless cars another welcome boost, helping these cars to be more widely accepted.
Driverless Car Insurance
Another area of interest is the subject of reasonable coverage for driverless cars. In a recent article for the LA Times, acquiring personal auto insurance premiums is a $200-billion industry in the United States alone. Driverless cars could change the current environment of the car insurance landscape, dramatically lowering costs for driverless car owners. With more driverless cars on the road, accident rates will undoubtedly experience a steep decline.
This is good news for consumers, because it suggests that over the next couple of decades car insurance will become more affordable as driverless cars operate without the dangers of human error producing so many accidents on the road. Until now, human error was almost exclusively responsible for all driving-related accidents. Driverless cars will inevitably be embraced as a solution to the ongoing problem of human error behind the wheel. As human error is being reduced to a minimum, this will undoubtedly demonstrate that driverless cars truly are safer than cars driven by humans. As a consequence, more people will learn to appreciate and embrace the driverless car as a meaningful step forward in modern transportation.