According to a RAND Corporation study, “Self-driving vehicles offer the promise of significant benefits to society, but raise several policy challenges, including the need to update insurance liability regulations…”
A major benefit of driverless vehicles pertains to a potentially massive reduction in traffic accidents. For example, “In 2012, 33,561 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States…In 2012, an estimated 2.36 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes…”
“The highest price we pay for car crashes is in the loss of human lives, however society also bears the brunt of the many costs associated with motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. motor vehicle crashes in 2010 cost almost $1 trillion in loss of productivity and loss of life.”
Given these statistics, it may be concluded that humans are atrocious drivers. Driverless vehicles could conceivably reverse this terrible situation. However, this all encompassing societal benefit due to driverless vehicles may lead to a significant loss of revenue by the automobile insurance industry. Thus, this group may interject significant ‘road blocks’ to curtail regulatory acceptance of the driverless vehicle industry by Congress.
The insurance industry holds considerable influence over Congress by means of political campaign contribution given by them. For example, “In the 2012 election cycle, the insurance industry contributed a record $58.7 million to federal parties and candidates as well as outside spending groups.”
It remains to be seen whether the American political system is more interested in saving lives or the insurance industry.Auto Crashes, Driverless Vehicles, NHTSA, Political Campaign Contributions, RAND, SBIR Consultant