Can you imagine a South Africa where the cars drive themselves? Well you should, because 2025 is the year that’s being earmarked by manufacturers like Nissan and Volvo for the launch of their self-driving cars. Google has already installed self-driving vehicles to cart their employees around their California campus, and Volvo has begun testing their self-driving vehicles in a “Drive Me” initiative in the quiet town of Gothenburg, Sweden. The inevitable sci-fi era is upon us, and motorists can expect a number of huge changes in the near future. For example, what could Car Insurance cover with the potential of fewer accidents? Will there be a greater need for a Motor Warranty for any manufacturing faults? These are some of the predicted changes we’re looking forward to on our roads.
A self-driving car means advanced technology does all the driving work, freeing your hands and mind. So you’re able to use your time more productively whilst sitting in that bumper-to-bumper traffic. Whether it’s squeezing in that last-minute work you dreaded doing at home, or taking some much needed “me” time and indulging in a book, you could, depending on your commute have an hour or more to spare every day. Seeing as traffic is partly caused by human error, breakdowns and accidents, the efficiency of self-driving cars will decrease traffic time.
Self-driving cars act like a personal valet system, dropping you off at your desired location, then driving away to find a free parking. No more being late because you had to circle the area for an elusive parking bay! And when you’re done at your appointment, your trusty self-driven car will be ready and waiting to pick you up and whisk you away to your next destination.
The local statistics for drunk driving are frightening. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), South Africa has more drunk-driving related deaths than anywhere else in the world. With self-driving cars at hand, there really is no excuse, as your level of inebriation is irrelevant to your ability to drive a self-driven car. Taking a taxi home will also be cheaper, as the cost won’t include a driver. Uber has already ventured into self-driven cars at the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Science.
A McKinsey & Co report has predicted that self-driving cars will increase lift sharing and shuttling services, making individual cars a less urgent need. Self-driving cars can also park more efficiently and in tighter spaces, which means 25% of parking space will be freed up, and in congested cities like Cape Town, that would be a vast improvement. In such a controlled environment, accidents are likely to fall by as much as 90%, resulting in much safer roads.
Self-driving cars promise to make our roads safer and day-to-day lives easier. In South Africa, where the road accident death toll came in at 5 500 in the years 2014/2015, the safety of self-driven cars is a change worth welcoming. Other than the expected price once they launch commercially, there really are very few drawbacks.