Could driverless tech reduce road traffic accidents?

Autonomous vehicles, driverless cars, self-driving cars… Whatever you call them, it can’t be denied that it’s been a hot topic over the past year or so.

But whether you’re behind the wheel of a self-driving car, on a bike or on foot, there’s also no denying that the roads can be a dangerous place. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people are injured when out on the road in some way, but could new technology help to reduce the number of Accident and emergency Claims?

Are accident numbers down?

According to a new report release by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SSMT) along with JATO Dynamics, the answer to that question appears to be ‘yes’. Here are some of the most stand-out statistics from the new report:

  • Almost 70% of new cars in the UK (66.8%) come with at least one self-activating safety feature. This could be blind spot sensors, parking assistance or an autonomous emergency braking system

  • This means that approximately 1.8 million buyers benefit from some form of autonomous tech

  • 20% more vehicles than the previous year now come with a collision warning system

The most interesting statistic to emerge from the report was that ‘road accidents in the UK have fallen by nearly 10% since 2012.’

The report also went on to say that these were expected ‘to fall further as manufacturers continually strive to develop ever more sophisticated technology to improve safety and the driver experience.’

Chief Executive of SMMT, Mike Hawes, said: “Safety is the number one priority for vehicle manufacturers and the pace of technological change is faster than ever before, with driver assistance technologies now available on the majority of vehicles cars. Fully autonomous cars may still be some way off but millions of consumers are already enjoying the benefits of new technology which can only help make our roads safer.”

Are we better off with no one behind the wheel?

It’s encouraging to see that technology is making such impressive steps forward in increasing the safety of people on the road, but it’s essential that society doesn’t fall victim to complacency. Autonomous tech can only do so much, and it’s important for human drivers to still be alert and aware of their surroundings in order to prevent accidents.

So when you’re out and about on the road, follow these simple pointers and don’t rely on any of your vehicle’s built-in systems:

  • Never use a mobile phone at the wheel. Not only is it illegal and could result in a £200 fine and six penalty points, it is also a massive distraction

  • Stick to the speed limits. Never go above them and adjust speeds according to your surroundings

  • Pay extra attention near schools and when lots of people are around

  • Wear your seatbelt at all times and ensure other passengers do too

  • Leave a suitable gap between yourself and the car in front of you to allow for enough time to react

  • Don’t drive if you’re tired

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