Driverless Technology - Help or Hindrance?

MCE Insurance

In July of 2014 it was announced that as of January 2015 driverless cars will be permitted to be tested on UK roads. This effectively means that as of next month history will be made; this growing industry seems to be gaining increasing credibility and subsequently attention in the world of insurance.

Independent research has suggested that driverless technology could decrease injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents by 90% every year. This is an incredible statistic when taking into account that in the UK alone in 2013 there were a reported 1,713 motor vehicle related deaths, with a reported 182,000 injuries sustained on top of this shocking statistic. In 2012 there were 2.9 million claims, according to the ABIs 'UK Insurance Key Facts 2013', with insurance companies paying out a reported £19.1 million in claims every day. With this in mind the 90% figure is certainly an interesting factor from an insurance perspective. The question is - will the UK market ever buy into this developing technology?

The issue with people driving cars is that by our very nature we are fallible, we make mistakes, and when travelling at high speeds the most momentary lapses in concentration can prove to be deadly. It is this that seems to be the key marketing strategy employed by many of the developers, removing that human aspect to the process, ideally making it more efficient and less potentially dangerous. After all a robot doesn't get road rage, or stop to take a call, or even drift off on a particularly tiresome journey.

However, many are still struggling to give complete control away to the machine, for a variety of reasons. For one, there is the issue of accountability. If a person was in a car accident in a driverless car, for instance, who would be responsible? It would certainly not be the non-driver who by the cars very design has surrendered control to the vehicle. Another aspect would be that for many driving is a passion, not a chore, and to yield to the emerging technology would not be as simple as many developers will surely hope.

It is clear that rules and regulations must be put into place, which they surely will do in the coming years. However it is evident that it is still early days for not only driverless technology, but the opinions of the people who will be affected by it.

15.12.2014 - Big Ed

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