Canadians spend approximately five billion hours driving every year, which equates to about $20 billion in time. Annually, there is an average of 160,000 injuries and 2,000 fatalities due to car accidents in the country, resulting in about $37.4 billion in collision costs.
In a 2016 report titled Auto Insurance for Autonomous Vehicles: Preparing for the Future of Mobility, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that autonomous vehicles have the potential to help drastically reduce these numbers, while also bolstering economic development, improving mobility and road safety, and lessening harmful emissions into the environment.
The IBC and its industry partners are preparing for a future when commuters will be able to relax on their way to work, even getting some early tasks done while comfortably being taken to the office by an invisible driver. Autonomous vehicles have been tested in Ontario since 2016, with three different models developed by the University of Waterloo, the automaker Erwin Hymer Group and Blackberry QNX measuring their performance on the challenges of Canadian roads. Less restrictive than that of the U.S., the regulatory framework in Ontario is ideal for manufacturers, placing fewer limits on tests with the caveat of it being necessary to have a licensed driver in the vehicle at all times.
The development of the self-driving car could be a major growth area for Ontario, and also, Canada, however there are still a number of details to work out before they will be available for purchase by your average everyday driver. Before they are introduced in other provinces, the problem of autonomous vehicle insurance has to be figured out.
The complications of insuring a driverless vehicle
In all Canadian provinces, auto insurance works on the assumption that human error causes accidents. That’s why insurance is based on risk. In the vast majority of cases, human error is the most prevalent cause of vehicle accidents.
Autonomous vehicle insurance requires the switch to the idea that in the future, accidents will be the fault of the vehicle.
The IBC’s proposed framework for autonomous vehicle insurance includes:
- A single insurance policy covering both driver negligence and the automated technology: The automated vehicle’s insurer would compensate injured people if the automated vehicle caused a collision, regardless of whether the human operator or automated technology was in control.
- A data-sharing arrangement with vehicle manufacturers, vehicle owners and/or insurers: The data-sharing arrangement would help determine the cause of a collision, whether the vehicle was in manual or automated mode at the time of the collision and the vehicle operator’s interaction with the automated technology.
The autonomous vehicles that end up on the market will more than likely include a combination of autonomous and self-driving capabilities. The driver will be able to take over in certain situations, and the vehicle in others. In fact, this already exists in many newer models, with driver assistance technologies such as automatic braking, back-up cameras, adaptive cruise control, and collision warning systems.
The potential drawbacks of a driverless car
Many people, for many good reasons, still don’t quite trust the concept of the self-driving car. There are concerns about the security of the mass amounts of data that will be collected through artificial intelligence technologies necessary to run the vehicle, as well as what might happen if the technology fails completely. The IBC addresses both in their autonomous vehicle report by recommending new federal vehicle safety standards for driverless vehicle technology and cyber security.
Bumps in the road in the development of the driverless vehicle have included:
- The price of an autonomous vehicle will be cost-prohibitive for most.
- The vehicles’ confusion when it comes to the behaviours of cyclists and pedestrians.
- Their inability to react well to poor road conditions, whether caused by bad weather or inadequate road maintenance.
- The fact that it is unlikely everyone will eventually purchase an autonomous vehicle, therefore the technology must develop in concert with human drivers.
The potential benefits of the autonomous vehicle
Picture yourself preparing to leave after a dinner with friends in the busy downtown. You will be able to call up your vehicle, have it drive itself out of the parkade, meet you out front of the restaurant, and then take you home in safety and comfort.
Additional potential benefits of a world with driverless vehicles includes:
- Fewer car accidents, especially those cause by driver error and carelessness such as distracted driving, impairment, and aggression.
- Better mobility as autonomous vehicles will be able to “speak” with other vehicles allowing them to fully predict traffic behaviour. This will lead to far fewer traffic jams and less stress on the environment.
- Better fuel consumption as stop-and-go traffic is eliminated.
- Better transportation options for the young, disabled and elderly.
Lane’s Insurance will always be ahead of the curve
Vehicle owners can trust that the experienced insurance brokers here at Lane’s are always on top of the latest trends in the industry. It is our job to ensure we are able to offer a wide variety of options to each of our clients so they are able to access the very best policy available for their needs. As a brokerage, our representatives work for you, not for the insurance companies. You can always be confident that you are getting advice that’s protecting your best interests, not the interests of the insurance providers. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff or Alberta office.