Self-Driving Cars | Shelter Insurance®

Is A Self-Driving Car in Your Future?


Have you heard the buzz about autonomous cars yet? Once considered futuristic technology, these cars, also referred to as driverless cars or self-driving cars, are now on the horizon. There are pros and cons to these cars, but ultimately, when it comes to safety, are you ready to give up control?

You can't buy a fully autonomous car yet, but semi-autonomous cars are available now. We got our first glimpse of them in 2007 when you could buy certain cars that had an optional self-parking feature to help with parallel parking. Now you can get vehicles with features that guide you back into your lane if you drift out of it, brake for you if you don't when you need to, and alert you if you are about to hit something. However, according to Jalopnik, a J.D. Power Initial Quality Study reports that consumers aren't fans of semi-autonomous vehicles just yet. Whether the alerts are annoying in cities with a lot of traffic or drivers are not confident enough in the technology to trust it, the outlook is not good for fully autonomous cars—at least not yet.

The Pros
Those who support self-driving cars say they are beneficial because:

  • 81% of accidents are caused by drivers rather than equipment failure.
  • If these cars contribute to accident reduction, it could result in lower insurance costs.
  • They could reduce accidents caused by drivers who are distracted or impaired.
  • They could provide a more convenient transportation option for the elderly or those who cannot drive due to disabilities.

These are all compelling reasons, but there are opposing opinions too.

The Cons
Those who are not convinced also have good reasons:

  • People aren't ready to trust this technology with their lives or the lives of their loved ones because it's not 100% foolproof.
  • These cars cannot interpret human signals, and that could cause problems if a bicyclist is sharing the road or if police are directing traffic.
  • These cars cannot be driven in all weather conditions.
  • Over time, as drivers become more reliant on self-driving cars, they will forget how to drive. (Not convinced? Think of how many people can't drive a stick-shift car anymore due to the popularity of automatic transmissions.)
  • Many Americans love driving.

Right now, we're just being introduced to semi-autonomous vehicles and getting used to those. Only time will tell if Americans will ever fully accept self-driving cars. Since they are not yet allowed on public roads in the U.S., and many are still in the development and testing phases, we have plenty of time to think about it. 

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