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Self-driving cars: future of the Road Accident Fund

I don’t think many people in SA appreciate truly how advanced the development of automated cars are at the moment.  Forget about the isolated incident you hear of a self-driving car accident all the time, almost every Tesla has an upgraded feature to it that allows the car to be self-driving.  You engage the self-driving feature and the car drives you home.  It is probably better if you negotiate up the driveway yourself and into your garage or out of the parking lot at the beginning of the journey, but the car does everything perfectly for you.  It follows all the rules, it drives within the lanes and quite frankly, apart from everything else, would be of great assistance to somebody who is driving home after one too many drinks.  For now, you have to keep your hand on the steering wheel, but make no mistake the car is driving itself – not you.

For anybody who has not picked up the pattern of the last 20 or 30 years, this one is not hard to pick up – computers do things better than us.  There will, undoubtedly, be fewer accidents when more vehicles on the road are computer-driven.  Right now, you have more than 285 000 Tesla’s alone driving like that in the US, but it will not take long before every manufacturer has more successful software or licence it, as they have the charging stations, from Tesla.  Tesla got a lot of money for opening its super-charging stations to its rivals and no doubt many of them may want a licensing deal on the automated software next if they are too far behind the curve.

South Africa does not adopt things as quickly, but when things really get going we always get stuck in – just like we did with mobile phones.  I am not saying that that automated cars will be the rule in SA in 10 years, but I don’t think it is an outrageous bet to suggest that the accident rate in SA in 20 years’ time will be substantially lower than it is now largely, if for no other reason at all, due to an increased number of cars of self-driving cars, taxis and the like on our roads.  We are the most advanced country on the African continent, and I have no doubt that although moving to electric and self-driving cars at the moment is essentially non-existent, the move will explode in the years ahead around the world – and in South Africa too.  No doubt personal injury attorneys will start to feel the reduction in injured victims faster in the USA and its safe to assume that the more advanced the country is, the faster their accident rates will fall in the years ahead.

This won’t impact the Road Accident Fund at all now, but it will certainly lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of injured persons it has to pay out in 20 years’ time compared to now.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 29-Aug-23   |  Permalink   |  26 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

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Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
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