How Much Will Driverless Cars Save You on Car Insurance?

driverless car

There’s been a lot of hype lately about driverless cars. Some surveys suggest drivers could save 80 percenton their insurance premiums, without offering any information to back up that claim. Until the vehicles come into widespread use, which could be decades away, no one really knows how much these cars can reduce car insurance rates.

Crunching the Numbers on Driverless Cars

According to a recent report from the Eno Center for Transportation, 93 percent of crashes in the United States are primarily caused by human error. This number comes from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2008. But that doesn’t mean driverless cars will stop all human errors from occurring. In fact, new human errors are emerging as driverless car developers work on perfecting their creations.

MIT Technology Review’s Will Knight took a spin in a few automated vehicles and was both impressed and concerned with what he found. BMW research engineer Michael Aeberhard took him for a ride on the Autobahn in a BMW 5 Series prototype. Knight noticed that once he became accustomed to the car taking control, he found himself relaxing, possibly too much.

Knight talked about this phenomenon with Clifford Nass, codirector of Stanford University’s Center for Automotive Research department. Nass told him, “We may have this terrible irony that when the car is driving autonomously it is much safer, but because of the inability of humans to get back in the loop it may ultimately be less safe.”

Emerging Technology Needs More Study

Because of human factors like this one and others yet to be discovered, no one really knows how much automated cars will save drivers. Until the cars reach the market as expected in 2020, we won’t have a full understanding of the safety factors that will set car insurance rates.

Photo credit: Mariordo