Today, driving a car is risky business. It’s one of the most dangerous activities that Americans participate in on a regular basis, accounting for over 10 deaths per 100,000 people each year in the United States. In Tennessee, that figure jumps up to over 16 deaths per 100,000 people. The vast majority of those traffic deaths are caused by crashes resulting from human error, so it stands to reason that the introduction of self-driving vehicles should lower those numbers. A recent study provides important insights that Nashville car accident lawyers and law firms will likely find useful as autonomous driving trends change in the future.

The study, conducted by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., predicts that self-driving vehicles could prevent as much as 90 percent of all car accidents, save up to $190 billion in repair and health bills each year, and save thousands of lives annually. After speaking with dozens of auto industry professionals, McKinsey & Co. came to the conclusion that auto companies are likely to widely embrace autonomous vehicle production starting in about 15 years, with initial autonomous features added to vehicles starting within the next decade.

Improving Safety

Improving vehicle safety has been on the minds of auto giants for some time. Many semi-autonomous safety features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot alert and lane departure prevention technologies have been added to new vehicles in recent years. However, the percentage of vehicles currently on the road with these added safety features still remains mostly in the single digits, and automakers are looking to take the next step into fully autonomous driving in order to boost safety statistics.

The McKinsey study predicts that the widespread use of autonomous vehicles will drastically reduce accidents caused by human error. Considering that the majority of today’s accidents are caused by driver error, this is cause for celebration.

However, even a self-driving vehicle can’t necessarily perform well in bad weather, in places where maps are out of date or off major routes. It’s likely that technical failures will, on a smaller scale, replace human error as the major cause of auto crashes once self-driving vehicles become the norm. Insurance and law firms, including Nashville car accident lawyers, will have to adapt to changing auto accident statistics.

An Ambitious Timeline

Some automakers, including Tesla Motors, believe that a fully autonomous vehicle will be ready for sale to the general public in the next five years. The McKinsey report proposes a more conservative timeline, claiming that autonomous cars will start to become widespread by 2030.

None of these predictions, however, are set in stone. Although automakers are currently on board with the idea of completely switching to self-driving vehicles within the next decade or two, it’s possible that they could change their minds. The self-driving vehicle could end up as just another pipe dream reminiscent of the hydrogen fuel cell powered cars of the early 2000s.

For now, though, it looks as if self-driving cars really will be the way of the future. The automotive industry, including supporting industries like insurance companies and law firms, will likely have to adapt to a drastically changing automotive landscape over the next decade.

To learn more about staying safe on the roads, and pursuing compensation in the event of an accident due to driver error, contact us at Mitch Grissim & Associates today.