Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the Google car, a vehicle that drives itself. While it sounds too good to be true, the car is currently being tested. Once the car arrives it could have far-reaching implications across the world.
Why will the car put me out of business? Because I am a car accident lawyer and if the technology in this car is implemented throughout United States we should see a 90% drop in auto accidents.
Across the world, it is estimated that around 1.2 million people die in accidents each year and 50,000,000+ are injured. This number should grow as the population grows. Self driven vehicles could significantly decrease these fatalities and injuries, and the various costs associated with accidents.
Google Car YouTube Video
The above YouTube video shows how a Google test car is changing the life of a man who is 95% blind.
The car is expected to also reduce wasted drive time and energy by 90%, and reduce the number of cars on the road by 90%. Here’s a brief overview as to how the vehicle will reduce your commute time. The technology in the vehicle will allow for higher speeds, allow cars to travel in very close proximity to each other, and the vehicles will choose more effective routes.
It is estimated that every year Americans waste 1.9 billion gallons of gas and 4.8 billion hours of time sitting in traffic. That could soon change.
Here’s another possible savings: the Google car could lessen or eliminate the need to own your own vehicle. Theoretically you could share vehicles with a group of people. A driverless car would have the ability to move to where it is needed on its own, parking itself somewhere when it’s not being used.
For many people, after their home a car is the item that costs the most. With self driven vehicles, you could theoretically use a shared vehicle when needed and just pay by the mile. It would be similar to using a Zipcar, except the car would come to your location.
Who are the losers?
Obviously Google is a huge winner under this scenario. The value of this technology should be worth trillions of dollars, and I’m not complaining. If things go the way Google envisions, I say line up all of their executives and give them Nobel peace prizes.
That being said, many people are going to take serious financial hits if self driven vehicles become the norm. I already mentioned that personal injury lawyers will take a huge hit. Most personal injury practices are largely based on auto related injuries. But who else is going to feel the financial pain?
1. Auto insurance carriers. No auto accidents means no need for auto insurance policies (for the most part). We will still need auto insurance for the estimated 10% of accidents that will still occur.
2. Auto body repair shops. If there are no accidents, there will be little need for car repair shops.
3. Medical practices and emergency rooms. A huge portion of business for orthopedic medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, emergency rooms, etc. comes from auto related accidents. Most of this business would disappear.
4. Health insurance carriers. With far less people needing serious medical care due to accidents, health insurance companies will not be able to justify large premiums for long. Prices should be drastically reduced, along with health insurance profits.
5. Insurance brokers. When the cost of auto insurance and health insurance bottoms out, so will the commissions being paid to your local insurance salesman.
6. Local and State government. With self driven vehicles there would be no more speeding tickets, moving violations, drunk driving violations, etc. All those towns that generate huge revenue from ticketing motorists would see that money disappear.
7. Oil companies.
8. Parking lot owners. Theoretically, when you arrive at work in your self driven vehicle, the car would either go pick up someone else or go find a free parking spot for the day. No more need for parking lots.
The Google cars are already being tested and they’ve been driven more than 300,000 miles without an accident while the computer was controlling the vehicle. So you might be wondering, where can I get one? Google still has technology issues to overcome. Here are the issues:
Snow. After a snowfall, the vehicles can’t see markings on the road and would get confused.
Another issue is any changes to roads that are not yet reflected on the vehicles maps. The vehicle can get lost.
Finally, while the vehicle can see stop signs, stop lights, speed limit signs and other vehicles and objects on the road, there are still issues with construction zones, or a person directing traffic with hand signals that conflict with another traffic signal.
What happens next?
Some speculate that the technology will slowly enter vehicles. For example, the first step might be an advanced cruise control system in some vehicles.
How long until we are all riding in a self driven vehicle while we text, eat, drink, watch TV, surf the Internet, etc. is unknown. Some people think significant changes are decades away, but I disagree. My guess is that by the mid-2020s the transition to self driven vehicles will be underway.
Welcome back to the year 2013! There are unfortunately still plenty of accidents and injuries. If you’ve been hurt in a collision, call the car crash lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free consultation at 312-924-7575.
Fasten Your Seatbelts: Google’s Driverless Car Is Worth Trillions, Parts 1 & 2, by Chunka Mui, Forbes.com. January 22, 2013 and January 24, 2013
Google’s Problems With Its Self-Driving Cars, by Henry Blodget, The Daily Ticker, March 5, 2013
Off-Duty Chicago Police Officer May Have Been Speeding Prior to Fatal Rollover Accident, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, March 7, 2013
School Bus Crashes into Multiple Vehicles in Suburban Niles, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, March 4, 2013