Written by Hazel Ramsell
When you think about the amount of time we spend behind the wheel today, whether in congestion or helping friends and family getting to and forth, being able to spend this time on other activities whilst on the move opens up a whole host of possibilities.
But not only will we have more free time, driverless cars also promise to make our roads safer and make our journeys faster.
Driverless cars are set to arrive on UK roads by 2021 according to the government and are predicted to change the face of personal mobility forever. Looking past the obvious benefits, Select Car Leasing have looked into the less predictable consequences of driverless cars.
- Road rage will no longer exist
In 2017, 80% of Brits suffered from road rage. Recent data shows that 66% of traffic fatalities can be linked to aggressive driving of some kind, which can be one of the effects of road rage. The reduction of road rage by automated driving could save lives.
With the main cause of road rage being the interpretation of other road users’ actions. Once road users’ hand over control of driving to the car, there will be no reason for road rage as each car will strictly adhere to road regulations.
- The NHS will save around £450 million each year
Every year, injuries from car accidents cost the NHS around £500 million. By 2030, car accidents will have been cut by 90% due to driverless cars.
Whilst this figure sounds substantial, it is still only 0.3% of the NHS yearly budget. But every less incident is a success, and this is one of the well-anticipated positives of driverless cars.
- Underage ‘driving’ could be legal
A study by the Open Roboethics Institute revealed that 38% of the public would be happy for their child to ride a driverless car alone.
The UK government recently gave the green light for children being able to travel in a driverless car without an adult, with Transport Minister Claire Perry saying “‘I have a vision of the school-run driverless car where you wave your children off to school and they come back at 3.30.’ Trials are ongoing. However, the public may not be so quick to trust an autonomous car with their children.
- Alcohol consumption will rise
A fully driverless car would enable its user to exceed the current alcohol limit before taking them home, with experts predicting that £50bn of value will be added to the alcohol industry because of this.
Ironically, although there is likely to be more people drinking while in their self-driving cars, alcohol-related deaths on UK roads will likely disappear, saving around 240 lives every year. However, the adverse effect of this could be an increase in alcohol-related deaths as consumption will no longer be limited by drink driving laws.
- Radio could be made redundant
Car radios currently take up 22% of the radio listening market share. With the introduction of driverless cars, people may spend their journey watching shows on tablets, looking at social media, or working, for example.
The freedom of being a passenger without having to keep your eyes on the road means riders will be able to browse the news on their tablet, watch their favourite TV show or begin work before they reach the office. This could see a large number of radio listeners slowly turn off and do other activities during their journey.
- You probably won’t own your car
A recent study by think tank RethinkX predicted that consumer demand for new vehicles will drop by a huge 80% by 2030, as drivers move towards a subscription-based model, like Netflix or Spotify and they will be able to be hailed from any location.
An estimate from KPMG recently predicted that by 2030, midsize car sales in the US will decline considerably from today’s figure of 5.4m units every year to less than half that number, 2.1m. This will also have an effect on passenger vehicles, with predictions that the 247m passenger-based vehicles on American roads in 2020 will drop to just 44m by 2030, with the need for taxis etc. significantly decreased. Savings on transportation cost will result in a boost in annual disposable income for US households totalling $1 trillion by 2030.
- Your car might take you hostage
According to Munch Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurers, 55% of corporate risk managers believe cybersecurity is the biggest concern for driverless cars; as anything that contains a computer within it can be hacked, and driverless cars are no different.
In 2015, cybersecurity researchers took control of a Jeep Cherokee 10 miles away from their position and made it crash. Not only did they make the SUV crash, they also had full control of all of the car’s electronics such as the radio, heating and windscreen wipers.
- There will be an organ shortage
In the US alone, 6,500 people die each year while waiting for an organ transplant with another 4,000 removed from the waiting list as they are considered too sick for a transplant. 20% of the organs currently donated for transplant come from driving accidents. Once driverless cars are implemented, it’s predicted that they will lead to a 90% decrease in road accidents meaning there will be fewer organs available for people who need them.
- Car parks will be obsolete
Driverless cars will be able to make their own way home, meaning the £8bn British motorists spend every year on parking will significantly decrease.
Motorists who are left often paying premiums for city centre parking and prime locations will save considerable sums of money, as driverless cars will be able to drive themselves home once they’ve completed our journey. If your driverless car is part of a subscription service, they will leave you at your destination and make their way to their next pick up. This means that parking will no longer be necessary, especially in city centres and suburbs where journey times tend to be shorter.
- Millions will lose their jobs
Self-driving cars could cost the economy 25,000 jobs per month, according to Goldman Sachs. It’s likely that the US would be the hardest hit, with truck driving the most popular profession in 29 states, which shows the seismic shift autonomous vehicles will cause in employment. In the US, 4m people earn their livelihood through the operation of motor vehicles and these jobs would be put in jeopardy because of autonomous vehicles.