The Economic Prize of Winning the Driverless Car Race

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The UK could be on the brink of a driverless car revolution, spelling a healthy boost for the economy. The Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) believes the country can become the leader in this market. But why is there such an appetite to win the driverless car race? The simple answer is the economic reward could be huge. But why and how?

Chief Executive of the SMMT, Mike Hawes, commented in a recent report: “Some people see automotive as yesterday’s economy, but we don’t agree. We’re on the precipice of something more exciting and exhilarating than ever before – and the UK is ready for the journey.”

With the implementation of driverless technology, the society believes almost 4,000 deaths on the UK’s roads can be avoided, and 47,000 serious collisions prevented by 2030. You may be thinking that this is fantastic news for saving lives and making the roads safer, but what does it actually mean for the economy? Eradicating these accidents could, in the eyes of the SMMT, save in excess of £2 billion.

This could be incredibly positive for the NHS, as the public healthcare provider could save an incredible amount of money with the dawn of driverless cars. In fact, recent Department for Transport data revealed that road accidents cost a staggering £1.8 billion in medical and ambulance fees in 2018 alone.

It’s not just savings, though. What about the jobs that could be created from a thriving new industry? The SMMT has predicted that 420,000 new jobs will be created, resulting in £62 billion for the economy.

The most exciting thing from this is that strong regulations, great infrastructure and favourable market conditions could help the UK could win the race against Germany, America and Japan. The SMMT believes these four main areas need to be dealt with by the UK to ensure they achieve success ahead of their rivals: 

1. Build towards achieving international standards

2. Work together with local authorities to develop the industry

3. Implement new road traffic laws

4. Upgrade the A and B road network’s 4G mobile phone coverage. 

The Bank of England is also taking a keen interest in the advancement of automation in relation to the economy – commenting that UK drivers on average spend 127 hours per year stuck in traffic. It also asks interesting questions about insurance and the economy as a whole. 

While the numbers point towards positive economic benefits for the NHS and the UK as a whole, there’s still reluctance from consumers when it comes to driverless cars. This is despite the majority of accidents occurring as a result of human error. Until the fears of motorists in the UK can be diminished, a mixed reception will remain.


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