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Autonomous Cars: Road Safety Improvements

Oct 16, 2019

Autonomous cars look set to be the future of UK roads. With both government and industry support, technology is constantly being improved.

As well as advances in technology, it is also thought that introducing autonomous vehicles to the roads will result in road safety improvements.

One recent study has gone as far as to suggest that introducing autonomous vehicles to the roads could reduce collisions by 22%.

The study, conducted by TRL, the global centre for innovation in transport and mobility, focussed on the introduction of level 4 autonomous vehicles alongside human controlled vehicles.

What are Level 4 autonomous vehicles?

Autonomous vehicles are graded according to the level of automation that they allow. There are currently 5 levels – with 1 being the least advanced and 5 being the most advanced in terms of automation.

This article gives a good guide to the different levels of vehicle automation.

Level 4 automation is one of the more advanced. Vehicles classed as level 4 will allow full automation. But only in controlled areas. In these areas the driver wouldn’t be required to intervene.

How could autonomous vehicles improve road safety?

The study from TRL suggests that through the introduction of level 4 autonomous vehicles to the roads we could see a reduction in the following:

  • Collisions at junctions
  • Collisions involving vulnerable road users
  • Single vehicle run off road collisions

The study also suggests that by 2040, if 8-19% of cars are autonomous, up to 650 fatal or serious injury collisions could be prevented per year

Whilst the TRL study provides insight into how autonomous vehicles could improve road safety, they acknowledge that more data is required to get a true picture of the impact autonomous vehicles will have on road safety overall.

The government are pushing for autonomous vehicles to be on the UK roads by 2021, but it is not known if the technology will be ready by then. However, level 4 autonomous vehicles were tested on London roads in the last couple of weeks. So progress is clearly being made.

What implications could autonomous vehicles have on insurance?

The car insurance industry is sure to embrace and be supportive of any technology which brings with it improvements in road safety and reduces the likelihood of people being involved in accidents.

However, the introduction of automated driving does raise some questions for the area of insurance.

Issues of liability and who is at fault for an accident if an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident is of obvious focus for the industry. As well as new issues which could become more prevalent such as cybercrime linked to connected vehicles, and availability of data.

In this post, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) sets out how the insurance industry will be involved and proposals for how automated vehicles will be insured.

At Anthony Jones we are keeping a close eye on developments in automated vehicle technology and progress being made in getting them on the UK roads. We know this will be important to all of our motor insurance customers from fleet managers through to commercial vehicle owners. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

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