Driverless Vehicles Reduce Car Crashes!

Tired of hearing about the pending tsunami-wave of driverless cars, missing the pleasure of open-road cruising and the ‘good old days’ of motoring? Too bad, driverless cars are just around the corner.  The technology’s (clearly) not perfect yet but the big money’s backing the idea iGoogle car crash 2ncluding Google and most Euro car manufacturers, and they’re all predicting the end of car crashes, car insurance claims – and collision repair shops.

Crash Management works with many industry partners including the insurance broker sector.  We note their magazine CoverNote is keeping up with the issue and they’ve provided some quality coverage – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – and on that note we present CoverNote’s latest findings titled Industry Told to Prepare for Driverless Cars:


The multi billion dollar vehicle insurance industry will face radical decline due to the introduction of self-driving cars, with the number of car crashes set to drop 80% by 2035 and insurance premiums to plummet, a car maker says. Research in the US shows autonomous driving (AD) technologies could wipe US$20 BILLION off insurance premiums globally by 2020 alone.  

At present motor vehicle insurance generates 42% of all non-life premiums, the largest single slice of global premiums. Coby Duggan Volvo NZ National Manager said the insurance industry would have no choice but to react to these challenges to is existing business model. “The medium to long-term impact on the insurance industry is likely to be significant” he said.”Autonomous driving technology is the single most important advance in automotive safety to be seen in recent years.  It will mean fewer accidents, fewer injuries, fewer fatalities and fewer costs for vehicle owners.”  

Peter Shaw CEO at Thatcham Research (car crash and repair research organisation) said vehicle manufacturers were predicting that highly autonomous vehicles capable of allowing the driver to “drop out of the loop” for certain sections of their journey would be available from around 2021. “Without doubt car crash frequency will also dramatically reduce. We’ve already seen this with the adoption of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) on many new cars. “Research predicts that by 2035 as a result of autonomous and connected cars, crashes will be reduced by 80%. Additionally if a crash unfortunately can’t be avoided, then the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance, reducing the severity of the crash” he said.

Volvo will start the UK’s most extensive AD trial called Drive Me UK in 2017, with up to 100 AD cars being driven on real roads, part of its global push to develop AD cars with similar programmes to be run in Sweden and China. “The introduction of autonomous driving represents a revolution for car safety. Volvo has a vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020. Autonomous drive technology is a key tool in helping us achieve this aim” Duggan said.

Well that seems fairly definitive: the end of driving for pleasure as we know it, the end of the entire panelbeating industry, probably the end of some insurance companies and brokers. Perhaps Crash Management will be looking for a career change too…

For more on the wonderful world of car insurance see:


6 Responses

  1. Brian Gilbert
    | Reply

    You say the technology is not there yet. But you are speaking of driverless cars having to mix with human-driven cars. A completely driverless zone/country is viable. The vehicles then operate as single railway carriages using the road lanes as their ‘rails’. Users hire vehicles by the trip from companies like DHL and UBER. All vehicles are under the control of a central control system. Define it in a spreadsheet and it shows an enormous return per year. Several thousand pounds per head of the population.

    • Karen Knight
      | Reply

      Good comment Brian thanks. We’re aware that autonomous vehicle testing is quite advanced in the UK and we’re watching with interest. Driverless zones are certainly a feasible option. We’re not against the concept and we do fully support technological advances in vehicle construction particularly when driver safety benefits. While still in the development and testing stage there will be accidents and collisions with driverless v driverless and driverless v human controlled – it occurred again just a few days ago in the US with a Tesla in autonomous mode (speeding, we understand) which resulted in it T-boning a full-size truck & trailer unit and it was a fatality which is doubly unfortunate. Our point is, the ripple effects of driverless cars are almost endless, the potential elimination of the entire collision repair industry is the obvious one but just the tip of the iceberg. The other hornets nest is the liability factor and how car insurance companies will resolve it. We speculate an entirely new car insurance and claims model may be needed – we’d be interested to hear how this discussion is developing in the UK currently?

  2. Ken Black
    | Reply

    Good read. We all know it’s coming. Even the Herald caught up with the story today at It all looks very JETSONS right and avoiding fatality car accidents and gridlock is positive for sure. Theres a dark side no ones talking about though so before everyone blindly adopts a robot to run their lives and drive them to work think about the mass unemployment. Driverless cars, vans and trucks mean unemployed drivers and eliminating car accidents will destroy the panelbeating industry, salvage companies, parts suppliers, automotive paint producers, and all the factories that make and sell the equipment that supports collision repair. I know moaning about the distruction on of the panelbeating trade won’t get much public sympathy and will probably feed right into insurance companies hands – and profits. Interesting timing too when NZI is talking about model specific repair times, just another way to push their costs down at the expense of panelbeaters. So once we have tiny autonomous cars that are half the size of a real car that’ll probably mean we’ll be beaten down to half the income for the same job taking the same highly trained skills using the same ultra expensive specialised gear that insurance companies insist we invest in to save time and meet manufacturers specs. Our cost, their benefit. Again.

  3. Shane
    | Reply

    Another nail in the coffin of the panelbeating industry. Less car accident claims and insurance companys will be raking in the profits even more than now

  4. Tui
    | Reply

    Very interesting. I’m sure car technology improves every year, and that’s a great thing from a heath & safety point of view, along with better driving skills in NZ these improvements would certainly safe injuries and lives. A great improvement on the basic old cars we all grew up with in the 60’s & 70’s!

  5. Adrian
    | Reply

    Good coverage on the changing face of vehicle technology, I think we all realise driverless cars are here to stay. I note the Australasian Fleet Management Association is profiling EVs and autonomous vehicles at the next conference. Here’s the blurb and link below showing the full itinerary of subject which covers the full range of fleet health & safety and changing vehicle construction/technology. It looks like an extremely educational conference –

    Smart Vehicles Still Need Smart Drivers

    Think semi-autonomous cars are going to be a fleet manager’s gift from above? Think again. We already have clever tech in vehicles that drivers don’t understand – or use.

    Some Questions to Ponder
    1. The basic motor car driving off the assembly line today has around 25 safety devices fitted. But can you identify them?
    2. How many of your fleet vehicles have ABS or Traction Control fitted? The answer might surprise you.
    3. What about Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) or Seat Belt Load Limiters?
    4. How crashworthy are your vehicles? Do you even know what crash-worthiness means?
    5. Do they have side impact protection or pedestrian-friendly bonnets? What do you know about airbags front, rear, curtain or leg protection?

    The next new vehicle you purchase is likely to also have collision avoidance systems to avert dangerous driving scenarios.

    However, the ‘smart’ vehicle can only do so much. If the car receives driver input, systems like AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) do not engage. If the warning tone goes off, but the driver doesn’t do enough to stop, a crash will be the result, because applying the brakes overrides the safety system. Got all that?

    Three preventable crashes must be addressed before we can reduce fatal and serious injury crashes: rear end crashes, right-turns against oncoming vehicles and single-vehicle run-off-road crashes.
    If partial autonomy cannot reduce 90 per cent of these incidents then we’re all wasting our money.

    So how will you educate your drivers about these automated systems, their strengths and weaknesses? Not sure? Better click below to book…

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