How Self-Driving Cars Will Impact Urban Planning | Argo Group

How Self-Driving Cars will Impact Urban Planning

Self-driving cars will have a far-reaching impact not only in areas including municipal infrastructure and transportation routes, but risk and insurance issues as well.

Although it’s still years away, the day you see vehicles on the road with no one behind the wheel will be here before that jetpack they promised you.

General Motors, for example, recently announced the completed manufacture of 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolt test vehicles, bringing the company one step closer in the race to marketing autonomous cars. A big topic lately is how this will impact safety: Researchers estimate that driverless cars could reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90 percent.

But self-driving cars will also have a far-reaching effect on municipalities, counties and other public entities, said Thom Rickert, vice president and head of marketing at Trident Public Risk Solutions. The new technology will impact areas such as municipal liability, law enforcement and city planning.

Fleets of self-driving vehicles will need innovative coverage solutions

Self-driving cars could present an attractive target for cybercriminals. At a technology conference, a pair of computer security experts made headlines after they were able to make a Toyota Prius sound its horn and slam on the brakes by sending commands from their laptop.

“Our goal at Trident is to be prepared for the eventuality of driverless vehicles being deployed by our public entity clients,” Rickert said. “As with any new technology, the coverage implications will go far past the obvious auto liability concerns.”

Large areas of urban land could be made into public spaces

Carlo Ratti, director at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, believes vehicle automation will require 80 percent fewer cars on any given highway. So areas currently used for parking lots and roads could be converted into parks and public spaces. Some urban thinkers believe that in 15 years from now, autonomous vehicles will have erased the need for up to 90 percent of current parking lots. On the flip side however, that could spell less revenue in city coffers. San Francisco alone makes an estimated $130 million annually from parking meters.

Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology already here

Technology that lets vehicles communicate with infrastructure such as traffic lights – an integral part of driverless vehicles – is picking up speed.

In December, Audi announced it launched the first Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology in the U.S., starting in Las Vegas. Available in select models, the technology sends real-time signal information, via an onboard cellular data connection, from advanced traffic management systems that monitor traffic lights.

Although Las Vegas was the first city to connect traffic signal network to vehicles, expect many more cities to follow suit before autonomous vehicles become widespread.

Learn how Trident Public Risk Solutions has public entities covered when it comes to risk management at

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The insurance policies, not this descriptive article, form the contract between the insured and the insurance company. The policies contain limits, exclusions and conditions that are not listed in this article. All coverages are subject to individual underwriting judgments and to state legal and regulatory requirements. This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Policies for this program are issued by one or more insurance companies of Argo Group International Holdings Ltd. Trident is a registered service mark of Argo Group International Holdings Ltd.

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