THERE is not a day that goes by without the mention of autonomous driving cars in the news and recently the subject even appeared in the Queen’s speech as autonomous driving moves ahead with the accent on safety.
The new Modern Transport Bill was announced, aiming to ensure the UK is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport including autonomous and electric vehicles.
In recent weeks Volvo has announced the largest and most extensive autonomous driving trial this country has ever seen with up to 100 cars being tested on Britain’s streets from 2018.
Company fleets might still be coming to terms with how this technology is going to fit into the average car choice list, but many company motorists are already benefiting from this technology in the form of auto braking and adaptive cruise control.
For those fleets at Volvo’s recent autonomous driving conference the immediate benefits of this technology were front of mind – fewer accidents, fewer injuries, fewer fatalities.
Sending your company car driver off on company business each day at the wheel of an autonomous driving car could reduce the chances of them being involved in an accident by 30%. That’s a nice tick in the Duty of Care box and proof that you are responsible employer looking after the welfare of your staff, especially when 90% of all accidents are presently caused by driver error or distraction.
As a pioneer in this type of technology, Volvo is already saying it will take full responsibility for an accident caused by a fault with one of its autonomous cars. At the same time most car makers are still sitting on the fence, or reinforcing that the driver or their employer will be liable for any accident or third party claims.
The average company car probably spends a great deal of time each week stuck in congestion and while autonomous cars won’t get rid of it completely, they will reduce it. In addition to reduced driver stress, less congestion means reduced pollution which in turn leads to a reduced number of ailments and deaths caused by poor urban air quality.
A reduced number of accidents will obviously help reduce fleet running costs and, with a computer at the helm, fuel consumption is also likely to fall. But with many fleets being self-insured the real benefit could be significantly reduced insurance premiums.
The insurance industry has already set up a taskforce to understand the impact of autonomous driving cars and it’s too early for any real conclusions to be been made. Fewer accidents, driver injuries and deaths should lead to reduced risk and fewer claims for insurers to pay out on which on balance could reduce premiums.
As companies begin to come to terms with autonomous cars there is no doubt the UK will be at the forefront of this game-changing new technology. We would encourage the fleet industry to take part in the conversation before they start engaging with drivers and modernising their fleet policies.