A driverless future is inevitable… but is this a good path forward? For an answer, let’s review the top 25 pros and cons of self-driving cars. And please keep in mind that the listed pros and cons assume full autonomy on the roads. The transition over the next few decades won’t be a bump-free ride.
Side Note: Vehicle sales in the U.S. are near their all-time highs. Although, autonomous cars will lower car ownership. This will have a negative impact on Ford sales and other traditional car manufacturers.
Pros of Self-Driving Cars
1. Save Lives: The World Health Organization in 2010 reported 1.24 million deaths related to vehicles. The main cause is human error and automation will replace many of those fatal errors. Your car’s computer won’t become distracted with other tasks like eating and talking on the phone. Mothers against drunk driving (MADD) are also big proponents of driving automation.
2. Reduce Animal Road Kill: Over one million deer-vehicle collisions occur in the U.S. each year… but this will drop with self-driving cars. Driverless cars come equipped with sensors that can see much more than the human eye. At night, your car could detect and react to a deer moving on the side of the road well before it comes into your view.
3. Boost Productivity: In the U.S. the average commute time is 25 minutes. Driverless cars will free up that time. You can get a jumpstart on the workday or other tasks during your commute.
Side Note: Hands-free driving is a great time to learn. Right now, I’m working on the third and final CFA exam. Some people consider it the hardest exam in the world.
4. Reduce Driving Stress: Road rage leads to unsafe driving and the added stress negatively impacts your health. One study found that the longer the commute, the higher the person’s blood pressure and body mass index.
5. Automate Parallel Parking: This is the most failed part of many driving tests. It’s a challenging task but computers are already doing it better without fender benders.
6. Eliminate Honking Noise: As road rage disappears, honking will fade away. When cars are automated it wouldn’t be useful to have a horn. The cars will already communicate with each other silently.
7. Save Money: All of the driverless car pros have a common theme. They can save you money. As a frugal investor, I’m excited for the technology that’s improving all of our lives. There are also a lot of great investing opportunities.
8. Lower Insurance: Automation will lower insurance cost for drivers. According to KPMG, the auto insurance sector will shrink by more than 70% ($137 billion) by 2050. In the not distant future, we’ll be leaving our mandatory car insurance payments in the dust.
9. Eliminate Speeding Tickets: Self-driving cars won’t speed. You won’t give cops the option to ticket you.
10. Improve Traffic Flow: Communication is key and our computers are getting better at that. We’re connecting more devices through the internet and improving the communication speed. Driverless cars will be able to draft each other and we won’t need stoplights anymore.
Side Note: One company is ahead of the competition with improving communication speed. AT&T is working on rolling out 5G. The company is trading at a great value and paying a big dividend. Here’s why I’ve put 10% of my portfolio into the high-yield dividend AT&T shares.
11. Lower Emissions: Self-driving cars will bring efficiency to our roads. As a result, we’ll use less energy. The growth in automation is helping electric vehicles to replace gas guzzlers.
12. Save Garage Space: A garage takes up a good chunk of the total square footage in a home. And in tightly packed communities that’s valuable space. Driverless cars won’t need a garage that’s connected to your home. You can send your car to a tightly packed, secure community garage.
13. Empower the Elderly: As people age, they lose their ability to drive. This is a big setback for many Americans but it leads to another self-driving car benefit. The future cars can give some freedom back to elderly people.
14. Automate Fuel Charging: You won’t have to wait at the pump anymore. You will be able to send your car to charge itself.
15. Eliminate Driver’s Licenses: Hands-free driving will be done with simple commands or through taps on your smartphone. You won’t need any costly training. Parents will also be able to apply parental control settings to provide a safer experience for their kids that call rides.
16. Automate Car Updates: You won’t have to take your car into the shop as often. Most times it will be able to drive itself in. Also, your car will be able to automatically update its software overnight.
17. Access to Cheaper Travel: A car is the second most expensive asset most people buy. But with car automation replacing drivers, costs will come down. More people will have access to the lower cost rides.
Cons of Self-Driving Cars
18. Reduce Driving Freedom: Driverless cars will become mandatory on most roads. This is a few decades out… but people will fight against this loss of freedom. Driving manually on the roads is ingrained into American culture.
19. Lose Jobs: One of the most expensive parts of Uber is the drivers. Uber will be happy to cut jobs once driving automation is up to par. There are also over three million truck drivers in the U.S. and technology will replace them over the next few decades.
Side Note: Automation is a net benefit to society. Although, true unemployment is climbing and creating a new economic paradigm. My last five years of research has led to one powerful conclusion… Universal Basic Income is Inevitable.
20. Increase Cyber Threats: Lifting up the hood of a self-driving car will reveal a complex system of wires and computers. Your car will have more access points for hackers and those hackers can gain more control of your car.
21. Lose Personal Data: Companies collect more data on you every year. Driverless cars will be a gold mine for learning about your travel habits and much more. Companies will improve their marketing to extract more money.
22. Forget Driving Skills: Manual driving skill will decrease as hands-free driving is used. In the event of a system failure, drivers will be less prepared to control their car. This tendency has already been seen with pilots as many of their critical flying controls were automated.
23. Decrease Town Revenue: Some small towns pull in a lot of revenue from speeding tickets and vehicle violations. That lost revenue will put pressure on some small towns.
24. Increase Regulatory Complexity: Does a car’s computer swerve off a bridge to save one person and potentially kill everyone on board? There’s a lot of legal grey area ahead for self-driving cars. The regulatory side is the biggest barrier for adopting fully automated vehicles on the roads. Politicians struggle to keep up with the rate of innovation.
25. Build Expensive Infrastructure: Roads will take on a new design and signing system in the future. It will be an expensive transition to retrofit our roads with technology that assists self-driving cars.
Conclusion on Self-Driving Car Pros and Cons
Some of the driverless car pros and cons overlap. Although, the pros outweigh the cons. That’s why self-driving cars are inevitable and I’m looking forward to the future.
I’d appreciate any feedback or ideas in the comments below. If you have any additions to my research, I’d be happy to include them in the list.