Driving While Distracted: Can Technology Stop the Problem It Caused?

Friday, October 21, 2016

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Self Driving Cars

Self driving car technology could eliminate the distracted driving-related statistic that has over 1000 people being injured everyday, and over eight being killed. As Elon Musk's latest news shows, the technology may be a lot closer than we think.

To some Americans, a driverless car society is a scary one. But to others, particularly of the younger generation, owning a self-driving car would be a futuristic dream come true, straight from the movie set. But, the two major ride-hailing companies, along with car manufacturers are already competing to enter this unknown market. Autonomous vehicles might not be too far off into the future.

An Autonomous Fleet of the Future

While owning self-driving vehicles might still be decades away, companies like Lyft and Uber are researching and testing this technology right now in the rental arena. In January Lyft announced its partnership with General Motors to create an autonomous fleet. In the current system, many drivers using their cars for these on-demand driving services are not fully covered by commercial liability insurance. John Zimmer, Lyft’s CEO, set a goal to improve their driver's experience and to invest in their drivers.

Though GM will still invest in privately owned car sales since this is a major portion of their business, they have partnered with Lyft to also grow in a different direction; renting instead of selling cars to drivers. GM won’t stop selling personal cars anytime soon, but this move will put GM at the forefront of driverless technology and the car rental, on-demand subscription service. “Our view is the change is going to happen. We want to be driving it and leading it," says Dan Ammann, General Motors President.

Consumers like this on-demand service, especially in urban areas where people are less likely to own their own vehicles. While GM is trying to maintain its foreground, other car companies aren’t far behind and Ford is promising to deliver this same technology in commercial fleets within five years.

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Vehicle and Liability

Today when insuring your vehicle, driver risk is taken into consideration. Insurance covers us in the event of an accident. But who’s fault is it in an autonomous vehicle? And who will be liable? The insurance industry will need to follow new laws and regulations created with the rise of autonomous vehicles. Investigations will include looking at the technology. Insurance agents will guide you on what to expect when picking insurance. But it’s still unclear who is considered at fault if there is an accident.

Accidents on the Road

Distracted driving kills eight people everyday, and injures over 1000 more, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Instead of paying attention to the road, we are reading billboards, searching out the best music, eating or drinking coffee, checking themselves in the mirror, and using technology while driving.

distracted driving

Driving and cell phone use is increasing over time and it’s estimated that over 600,000 drivers are on the road at all times using technology. Younger generations use technology more than older generations. Kids are using smartphones and tablets younger than ever before. So it’s no surprise the incidents of distracted driving is increasing over time.

While laws are there in the event of injury or death caused by a distracted driver, that hasn’t stopped people from texting and driving. Autonomous self-driving vehicles could eliminate the distracted driving statistic. Does this mean less accidents on the road?

Accidents are still a major concern among consumers when considering driverless technology. The idea promises safety, but not everyone is convinced. Tesla’s first auto-pilot fatal car crash showed the world that technology isn’t perfect, and often can’t be controlled. And the questions, who is responsible is at the top of everyone’s mind. Driverless technology is no longer the dream of science fiction movie buffs. In the very near future driverless cars will be a reality. Urban centers and commercial fleets will set the stage and reinvent the rental subscription service in the car industry, and could be a way to help make us all safer.

By  Lindsey PattersonEmbed

Author Bio - Lindsey is a freelance writer specializing in business and consumer technology.


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