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Google's self-driving car
Google’s self-driving car

We all know that self-driving cars are cute and tend to be safer — at least according to Google’s self-released reports to date — but this new report has the self-driving revolution holding massive potential as one of the greatest things to happen to public health in the 21st century.

As The Atlantic reports, automated cars could save up to 300,000 lives per decade in the United States. Their reporting is based on this research paper by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which is filled with fascinating ways that self-driving cars will help us accident-prone humans by midcentury.

From the McKinsey report (bold added by us to highlight the mind-blowing data):

“Today, car crashes have an enormous impact on the US economy. For every person killed in a motor-vehicle accident, 8 are hospitalized, and 100 are treated and released from emergency rooms. The overall annual cost of roadway crashes to the US economy was $212 billion in 2012. Taking that year as an example, advanced ADAS and AVs reducing accidents by up to 90 percent would have potentially saved about $190 billion.

Wow.

The Atlantic hails the self-driving car revolution has potentially having a similar impact on public health as vaccines and anti-smoking campaigns.

There are more awesome reasons why self-driving cars will make our roadways not only safer, but just better, in the McKinsey report:

“AVs could free as much as 50 minutes a day for users, who will be able to spend traveling time working, relaxing, or accessing entertainment. The time saved by commuters every day might add up globally to a mind-blowing one billion hours…It could also create a large pool of value, potentially generating global digital-media revenues of €5 billion per year [just over $5.6 billion] for every additional minute people spend on the mobile Internet while in a car.”

McKinsey also points out that parking will become much easier, “reducing the need for parking space in the United States by more than 5.7 billion square meters,” and that the entire insurance model — based on human error — will shift to a one “focusing mainly on insuring car manufacturers from liabilities from technical failure of their AVs,” much like that for cruise lines or shipping companies. That might just lower your monthly insurance payment, too.

See the McKinsey chart below on self-driving cars:

Photo via McKinsey & Co.
Photo via McKinsey & Co.
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