It may seem like something out of a movie but driverless cars really are a reality that will come to be in the very near future. Many companies have successfully trialled vehicles, and it is said that millions of jobs worldwide are set to be lost as driverless cars start to phase in. Not great news for taxi drivers, but for those with disabilities and the ageing population looking to get their independence back, the prospect of a future with driverless cars is an exciting one.
People with both physical and mental disabilities have a plethora of issues when it comes to transportation. Many of them have a loss of independence as they cannot learn to drive and thus cannot move as freely and autonomously as many other people do. Public transport has been playing catch-up in recent years with regards to becoming more accessible to those with disabilities, but there’s still a long way to go on that front.
A lack of independence from the inability to easily travel to and from places is a key issue when it comes to the mental health and happiness of many disabled people, as many experience a sense of entrapment. Plus, many elderly people who have been judged unfit to drive (or lacking the confidence to do so) also suffer from the same anxieties.
Many of these key issues could be remedied by the advent of driverless cars, and then some. Here are just a few of the benefits that a world with driverless cars would bring to those with disabilities or lack of transport opportunities.
Increased independence and happiness
Driverless cars would give a greater sense of independence to disabled people. They’ll be able to choose when and where they want to go, whether it be for attending appointments, shopping, or even just socialising. Having greater autonomy would also reduce a disabled person’s reliance on carers, as well as improve their mental health and happiness as they won’t feel as isolated or as helpless.
Reduction in anxieties
The simple task of travelling to and from places can be the source of serious anxiety for many people with disabilities. Having to plan ahead and depend on drivers or unreliable public transport services can really take its toll. Driverless cars would bring an end to the anxiety that disabled face as a result of their dependence on unreliable or stressful modes of transport, putting their mind at ease knowing that the journey to and from where they plan to go will be safe, affordable, and simple.
Improving society’s perception of people with disabilities
Driverless cars could have some serious knock-on effects that would improve the lives of people with disabilities within society. Increased independence for disabled people would allow them to integrate more into their local communities, giving the rest of society the chance to be in contact with disabled people more frequently. This could help people to better understand those with disabilities, as well as removing stigmas and clearing up misconceptions.
Cheap car insurance for those with disabilities
If driverless cars become more mainstream then car insurance premiums would inevitably reduce for drivers with disabilities. As technology takes on more of the task of driving on the roads, there will be less need for modifications to cars in order to make them drivable by people with disabilities. Car modifications are one of the main reasons that disabled drivers sometimes face higher insurance premiums.
More opportunity for employment for disabled people
Difficulty with transportation has been considered as one of the reasons behind the stats that show that disabled people are 30% less likely to be in employment that those without disabilities. Driverless cars would open up a whole new world of employment possibilities for the disabled as they would find it easier to travel to and from locations for work.
Further advances in technology that could benefit the disabled
As the driverless technology develops it could mean that more and more disabled people are aided by the new advancements. Just like parking assist/sensors and automatic braking have helped, the ability to pre-programme journeys could help those who have mental and physical disabilities that would prevent them from completing a journey using the methods available today.