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Autonomous cars don’t mean faultless accidents

There are lofty safety goals in the auto industry, whether the zero traffic fatalities by 2030 initiative or the development of autonomous cars. Technology is changing how cars and our roadways work, but accidents still happen. In Arizona this March, a pedestrian died after she was struck by a semi-autonomous vehicle. Just like a human driver, technology is far from perfect.

Early predictions were that automated, or robotic, cars would decrease car accidents significantly. These safety improvements would, in turn, lead to systematic changes in the insurance industry. A new report suggests that the industry itself won’t suffer. Instead it will acclimate to the new auto industry.

Design flaws and defects

While a human driver was present in Arizona, the technological goal is for driverless cars. Today, human error is the leading cause of car accidents and car insurance claims. As technology moves away from human drivers, liability will fall on manufacturers and software designers instead. Software and defective materials or design will cause accidents even if there is no human behind the steering wheel. Additional threats will include hacking, hardware issues and production defects.

When comparing the cars of today to yesterday’s machines, the price of the technology is already a major difference. This will only continue going forward. The sensors used in today’s semi-autonomous vehicles cost nearly $75,000. Expensive technology requires insurance so owners can protect their investment.

Adapting to change

For now, human error still accounts for over 90 percent of car accidents and it’s unlikely to change in the near future. Change comes fast, but the auto insurance industry is vital to helping people protect their property and their physical health, no matter how that change develops.

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