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Self-Driving Cars Could Reduce Accidents, According to Study

March 6, 2015

Are self-driving cars safer? A new study reported by the Wall Street Journal suggests an affirmative answer. According to the most recent study of McKinsey & Co., widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles could reduce 90 percent of all vehicular accidents in the United States.

The study, which the consulting firm conducted by interviewing a number of industry officials, pointed out that self-driving cars will not only save lives but also money. By significantly cutting down road accidents, these vehicles will also significantly cut down expenses related to damages and healthcare. The study stated that auto-piloted cars can prevent as much as $190 billion in damages and health-related costs annually.

The McKinsey study also remarked on the changes that the mass adoption of self-driving vehicles will cause. Among those that will be affected are insurance companies. The study said that these companies, which currently consider driver risk profiles, will eventually direct their attention to technical failures instead.

Probably the most notable about the McKinsey study were its bold predictions. According to the report, mass adoption of self-driving vehicles will start in about 15 years while early implementations will happen in the next decade.

While automakers have started rolling out semi-autonomous vehicle technologies in current and upcoming models, the mass adoption of self-driving vehicles is unlikely to happen in 15 years’ time. The auto industry has made major strides in development, but there is still a long way to go before auto-piloted rides will dominate U.S. roads. This is true because there are still a number of issues that have yet to be addressed.

Ryan Eustice, a robotics professor from the University of Michigan, highlighted some of these issues to the Journal. According to Eustice, self-driving cars cannot be relied on in times of bad weather, when driving off major routes and in cases where maps are outdated.

Until the auto industry and the U.S. government can come up with ways to make sure self-driving cars are reliable in all instances and circumstances, full implementation will not happen. For now, consumers should take advantage of the advanced technologies that help make vehicles much safer. These days, state-of-the-art safety features are no longer just offered in high-end premium nameplates; vehicle manufacturers also make them available in mass-market models. Some of the features that will be seen in more vehicles in the very near future are adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and blind-spot alert, among others.

Photo credit: Eric Risberg/ Associated Press

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