Driverless car benefits
Driverless vehicles have the potential to provide significant road safety, economic, environmental and social benefits, including improved social inclusion.
This technology will make driving easier and safer, allow people to be more productive and offer greater mobility to a wider range of people than ever before, reduce emissions, and ease congestion.
In general terms, the benefits of driverless vehicles are reflected in the three following categories:
The biggest safety benefit from driverless vehicles is the potential to markedly reduce the number of accidents, with general agreement amongst Australian and international experts that 90% of all accidents could be eliminated through advanced driverless vehicle technology.
This technology could also reduce the impact of human error in road crashes, which cost Australia $27 billion annually, on top of the cost of human lives.
According to ADVI-commissioned research in 2016, 46% of Australians agree that driverless vehicles will be safer than traditional vehicles. The research also found that 70% of Australians want a self-driving car able to take over when they feel tired or bored, and just under three quarters (73%) of Australians wanting autonomous vehicle to transport them when they feel physically or mentally unable to drive manually.
Driverless vehicle technology will profoundly impact every single person in the community, and offer lifestyle benefits well beyond just being able to read a book, surf the web, watch a film or talk with passengers on a journey.
ADVI’s own research has shown that 82 per cent of Australians believe that one of the greatest benefits from self-driving vehicles will be enhanced mobility for people with a driving impairment or some type of licence restriction, such as a medical condition or vision impairment.
With the average car parked 95 percent of the time, a “mobility on demand” model would see fewer cars on the road, and the ones that are likely to will be shared. That could result in around 80-90 percent fewer cars in a perfectly efficient mobility system.
It’s likely that the car ownership model will change too, with more people opting to not own a vehicle. That means homes will use space normally needed for a carport or garage to expand their living areas, and on-road parking space could be used for other transport options such as cycling.
Imagine using a smartphone to summon a driverless car to take you where you need to go, rather than pay for registration, maintenance and running costs that come with vehicle ownership.
There is already a growing number of younger Australians opting to not have a licence, with similar declines noted in Canada, Britain, Japan and much of Europe, as well as the United States.
But perhaps the greatest lifestyle benefit from self-driving vehicles is that it provides enhanced mobility for people with driving impairments or restrictions.
That’s great news for the one in five Australians living with disability, and means about 4.3 million people stand to rely far less on carers, family and public transport to get around.
Instead, driverless vehicles would provide travel to work and play, and allow people to explore locations not currently serviced by public transport. For those who do drive, trying to locate a disabled parking option or contend with finding a vacant and convenient spot to stop becomes a thing of the past because they can arrive outside a location of choice and let the vehicle park itself elsewhere.
The economic benefits to Australia are estimated to be $95bn per annum from:
- The total ‘avoidable costs’ from crashes and congestion is $80bn, which forms a baseline to which the economic benefits of jobs and investment can be added.
- Based on achieving 1% of the global intelligent mobility market, Australia would generate $15bn in revenue and depending on the nature of the jobs (software, coding, component manufacturing etc.) this would generate approximately 7,500 direct jobs requiring $1.5bn – $2bn annual investment based on traditional car manufacturing parameters.
- The UK has estimated £900bn (AUD $1.6 trillion) in increased productivity and increased trade by 2025 as Advanced Driver Assistance Schemes (ADAS) and Automated Vehicle Technology (AVT) are progressively developed and utilised.
- Canadian research suggests that replacing conventional vehicles with self-driving vehicles would result in more than $65bn ($AUD) in economic benefits for Canadians each year. This includes $25bn in lives saved, $12bn in avoided medical costs, $20bn in wasted time in traffic, and $8bn in congestion avoidance savings from reduced congestion and road crashes.
Read more about the economic benefits in the ADVI Thought Leadership paper “Economics Impacts of Automated Vehicles on Jobs and Investment”.
New team member
Michael Caltabiano is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Road Research Board and Chair of ADVI. He has over 25 years’ experience in the transport industry, with previous positions placing him in charge of the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA) and as the director-general of the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR). He has extensive knowledge, not only from an engineer’s viewpoint, but from a change management perspective too. Michael is guiding ARRB to lead the charge in shaping our transport future.