Only 1 In 5 Car Accidents Can Be Prevented By Autonomous Vehicles

Only 1 In 5 Car Accidents Can Be Prevented By Autonomous Technology

Autonomous vehicles promise to revolutionise the automotive industry. But new research has cast doubts on how much safer they’ll make our roads…

Worth The Investment? 

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has published a study detailing the impact of autonomous vehicles on car accidents. Surprisingly, it discovered that only one-in-five could be prevented with the introduction of the vehicles; the equivalent of 22%. As a result, some are considering whether the considerable investment required is worth it. A report exploring the amount of investment thus far revealed that $80 billion had been invested between 2014-17. It suggested that a further $180 billion would be invested by 2022.

For perspective, it’s expected that it’ll cost $100,000 to render a vehicle completely autonomous (£80,000). Even semi-autonomous features, like those seen in Tesla Models, add anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to list prices. The question has to be asked, then, if a 22% increase in safety is worth it. One mitigating factor, however, is that TFL’s study scenario concerned autonomous vehicles coexisting on the roads with regular ones. That said, this potentially casts further doubts on the feasibility of operating both on road networks at the same time. Regardless, Richard Cuerden, director of the TRL Academy, remains exited about the safety benefits. He said, “our analysis suggests the introduction of automated vehicles to our roads is likely to bring the biggest change to road safety since the introduction of the seatbelt”.

‘More Data’

Cuerden elaborated that more data and information would be required before a more accurate picture of safety could be produced. The question has to be asked, however, where this data will come from. There’s also little legislation throughout the UK and EU countries concerning the testing of autonomous vehicles. Given the billions that have been invested in them already, it seems as though the rationale is being sought long after the green light was effectively given by the industry. These vehicles promise to overhaul how we travel, freeing up our time and fundamentally making us safer. But until more thorough research is conducted, we don’t really know if they’ll actually reduce car accidents by a worthwhile margin.

There’s also a major gap in our knowledge of how driverless cars will be employed or when. What numbers can we expect, which roads will they frequent and how will they interact with regular traffic? The novelty of the concept, its suggestions of modernity, make it intriguing for automakers and tech buffs alike; as do profit margins, imagined or otherwise. But as it stands we don’t know what driverless vehicles will really mean for us or whether they’ll be worth the considerable hype they’ve generated. Before effective research can be conducted, legislators need to paint a clearer picture of what the vehicles will actually be doing and where first. Controlled environments etc…

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