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How driverless cars could save Canada $26-billion a year

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driverless cars A new transportation report says that widespread use of driverless cars could save Canada as much as $26 billion (USD) a year from reductions in traffic accidents.

The report by GPS tracking company Global Positioning Specialists states that Canada’s GDP currently takes a $29 billion hit from traffic accidents, $26 billion of which could eventually be saved with the proliferation of autonomous driving technologies. The report ranks 73 countries by GDP lost to road traffic accidents and finds that Canada sits in seventh place in terms of total dollars lost. As a percentage of GDP, Canada is in the middle of the pack with 1.90 per cent of GDP lost to traffic accidents, the same as the United States and much lower than the worst offender, South Africa, which loses the highest percentage of GDP to traffic accidents at 7.80 per cent.

“Governments will never spend on investing in things like this unless there is concrete evidence, but here we have proved there are strong economic reasons to invest in driverless technology, as well as the obvious improvement to public safety,” says Lucile Michaut, head of Global Positioning Specialists.

The report stems from statements made by global consultants McKinsey and Company, whose June 2015 projections mapped three distinct phases in the adoption of autonomous vehicles (AVs), from the current development stage to a shifting landscape stage in the 2020s and early 2030s where insurers begin to move from covering individuals to covering technical failures to a third stage starting in the mid-2030s where AVs become the primary means of transport. Expectations are that by stage three, parking spaces will be reduced by billions of square metres worldwide and vehicle crashes will fall by 90 per cent.

As reported in The Guardian, a new international survey of car manufacturing CEOs shows that the auto industry is on board with producing driverless cars. The survey of 800 auto executives from 38 countries found that along with ubiquitous AV use, the future will also likely involve a lot fewer cars, as 74 per cent of executives polled thought that more than half of current car owners will be happy to give up primary ownership in the future, preferring instead to use car-sharing, carpooling and “e-hailing” taxi alternatives.

The change will mean that automotive companies will no longer be able to rely on car sales but instead will be looking to supply customers with a range of transportation-related digital services. “For the auto industry this implies that pure product profitability is outdated,” says John Leech, UK Head of Automotive at KPMG, to the Guardian. “Carmakers’ success will not be evaluated solely on the quantity of vehicles sold, but on the customer value over the whole lifecycle – especially when the digital ecosystem will be ready for the market.”

Transport Canada has just announced that it will be evaluating the safety of connected and automated vehicles, as reported in the Toronto Star, saying that AV technologies “have the potential to create new possibilities for the transportation sector by improving road safety, providing environmental benefits and creating new economic opportunities for jobs and investments.”

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About The Author /

Jayson MacLean
Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.

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