“Auto” Mobiles: Cars that Drive Themselves

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

It was years ago that I saw a picture of a new prototype Mercedes.  No steering wheel, no gas, brake or clutch – just a joystick that did it all.  My instant thought was of how many of my clients would be able to drive a car like that – it would just take one working upper limb.  No more bulky hand controls, complicated steering apparatus, or wires and cords connecting it all.

More recently I read an article on “cars that drive themselves”.  Amazing.  Imagine that.  Assuming the technology works, these would eliminate accidents, injuries, and the human problems of driving distracted, tired, while texting, eating, putting on mascara, being under the influence, or even getting lost.  It would be like having a driver or a limo every day.  No more tragedies of injury and death at the hands of neglect or mistake.  This has huge potential to help make transportation time both safer and more productive. 

What struck me, however, was that the article I read was written from the perspectives of Ontario insurance companies and body shops. They were expressing concern that “cars that drive themselves” will result in fewer accidents which will lower insurance rates (less insurance profit) and will reduce auto-body repairs.  Sorry, what?  REDUCING accidents is a problem?  I don’t see any health care professionals writing articles or blogs on how devastating it would be to have a reduction in clients who were severely or catastrophically injured in a car accident.  Clearly a health professional would look like a schmuck if they voiced that opinion, as do these deep-pocket and greedy insurers and the body shops they are in bed with.

It just goes to reinforce the problem in Ontario.  Insurance companies cry fraud, losses and keep suffocating benefits without reducing rates.  The government adds restrictions and fees for billing insurance companies and starts to “license” providers.  They blame lawyers, providers, tow-truck drivers, and claimants without looking in house at how they are running their “business”.  Then they show up with an opinion that expresses concern over lost revenue if people stop getting hurt.  Wow.  Disappointing.

I have said it before and will say it again – I would be happy to be out of work if it meant people would stop getting injured in car accidents.  If insurers truly cared about the people they insured they should be all for it.  But then again the incidence of car accidents and resulting injuries have been decreasing for years and our rates have not.  Enough said.