The Impact of Driverless Cars to Go Far Beyond Traffic Safety

Tue, 8/22/2017 - 7:34 pm by Kirsten Rincon

There is no doubt whatsoever that driverless cars will bring many benefits, primarily concerning traffic safety, by eliminating human error as the leading cause of car accidents, but there are many more things and aspects of people’s lives that autonomous vehicles are bound to change in a big way. In addition to making roads safer, they are expected to affect car insurance, but also reshape cities and transform traffic infrastructure, and even change the concept of vehicle ownership as we know it. What’s more, they will almost certainly influence the whole drivers’ licensing system, possibly making some segments of DMV exams, or even licenses, themselves, obsolete.

As autonomous driving technology is being further developed, motor vehicles could become fully-independent in about 15 years, eliminating the need for a person to sit behind a car’s steering wheel to take control in certain situations, which would also probably mean that people won’t have to acquire the skills they are required to have now in order to be allowed to operate a motor vehicle. With this in mind, the process of licensing drivers is expected to undergo drastic changes, and you probably won’t have to learn those complicated driving maneuvers you are required to perform now so that you can obtain a license. At the beginning, though, driverless car owners will have to obtain some sort of license verifying that they know how to bring the car to a complete stop or take control of the steering wheel in case something goes wrong with the technology, whereas further down the road, when vehicles become fully-autonomous, licenses will likely become completely obsolete.

If this does happen, the DMV will feel an impact, as well. Conducting driver’s license exams and issuing licenses are some of the most significant services DMVs provide, and a major source of income, so they might suffer substantial financial losses with the introduction of self-driving cars.

In addition to the DMV, there are other sectors that will inevitably be affected by autonomous vehicles becoming commonplace, and the automotive repair industry is one of them. Many transportation experts believe that hundreds of thousands of mechanic jobs will be lost in the decades to come, due to the fact that driverless cars will get in far less accidents than conventional cars, and they will not get damaged that often, which means that people won’t have to take their cars to the mechanic to get them repaired as frequently as they do now.

Also, automotive suppliers and parking companies could see their revenues dramatically reduced, as driverless cars are expected to break down pretty rarely, resulting in a declining demand for replacement parts. What’s more, chances are that driverless cars will further encourage and popularize car sharing, making many people to opt for this alternative transportation mode, rather than owning a car, leading to less cars on the street, and consequently, lowering demand for parking.

While all this might sound like driverless cars will have a largely negative impact, it’s actually quite the opposite. Eliminating driver’s licenses means lower fees for car owners, whereas reduced demand for parking means less parking lots and garages, which cover a substantial portion of the land area in many cities, and using that space to build something that has a greater value to the community and the environment. However, these benefits will mostly be felt by consumers and the general public, while insurance companies, the automotive repair industry, and probably various government agencies could feel some serious negative impact of autonomous driving technology.