Driverless Cars: Impact to Your Family Budget

A driverless world forecasts to save people money. Seemingly everywhere you cast a reading eye -- news articles, web sites, advertisements – the benefits of a driverless world are touted. To most people, these benefits are very appealing. For example, you should be able to save $1,000 a year on a family’s auto insurance, pay lower grocery bills, and enjoy increased fuel economy.  Just imagine taking nice, long car trips with little driver fatigue.Diagram of Driverless Car Technology Evolution

As with other technology, the price of a driverless cars will drop steadily toward what is affordable for many households. At that point, your family could start seeing savings. At first, the savings would be on things like insurance and gasoline. As the driverless world takes hold, decreases in the cost of goods and other savings will be realized.

Say that out of the U.S.’s 320 million people, some 25 percent hold a vehicle insurance policy.  That’s around 70 million policies.  Insurance industry officials estimate that premiums could fall an average of $1,000 per year nationwide with the advent of driverless cars.  That would leave around $70 billion in the pockets of Americans.  Transferring that kind of spending power to other sectors of the economy could have a significant impact on national prosperity.

With a driverless car, families could also see a reduction in fuel costs. Rather than bursting away from a stop signal, a driverless car could be programmed to accelerate more efficiently. Driverless cars would also brake more efficiently, using more energy inertia and less from gas. 

Moreover, optimists say cars would save fuel by “drafting,” hanging just behind a leader, letting him take the brunt of air resistance, and thus further streamlining your car.  A 20 to 30 percent fuel reduction is predicted. In this rosy picture, it would be like a gallon of gas costing your family $1.80 or $1.90 instead of the current $2.35.                     Via, Department for Transport, CC 

Farmers already use GPS-regulated combines and tractors, which lowers their labor overhead, tending to keep produce prices down. Regarding food and other consumer goods that are trucked from production point to market, these would arrive at market more quickly and cheaply. Human long-haul truckers must break to sleep after 8 hours straight on the road, and a producer of goods needs to pay a trucker or a trucking company to handle the big rig carrying the product. Usually a middleman, a warehouse or distributor, is needed between the producer and the trucker. Conceivably, an agribusiness producer could own driverless trucks that could be loaded directly at the grow point and travel directly to market destinations, cutting out the middleman and his cost to consumers.

As we begin to enter into the new world, there will likely be other ways, currently unforeseen, that will save consumers money. Much of these savings, however, will have an impact on employment rates.  For instance, as insurance rates and claims drop, insurance companies will lay off claims adjusters.  So, while some families will save money, others will face a transition to new employment.





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