A new report published by financial services provider Axa UK has suggested that a shift to automated or ‘driverless’ haulage and logistics vehicles could yield nearly £33.6 billion in savings for the haulage industry after 10 years.
The anticipated cost savings cover labour, fuel, insurance and vehicle utilisation and, if passed on to consumers, could save every UK household around £150 a year, claims Axa, which undertook the survey in conjunction with independent financial analyst and transport expert Douglas McNeill.
In addition to the obvious labour savings generated by a reduction in need for drivers, the report found that significant savings could be gained from reduced fuel consumption due to computer-controlled efficiency. Further cost reductions would result from falling insurance premiums as a result of automated vehicles being less accident-prone, and the fact that driverless vehicles would be free from drivers’ hours regulations.
David Williams, head of underwriting at Axa UK, said: “In commissioning this economic modelling, we wanted to discover the financial impacts of introducing driverless haulage fleets. The results confirmed our suspicion that automated freight will not only be much more efficient and make the roads safer for other users, it will also reduce the prices of the end products that we all buy.”
He also highlighted the potential safety benefits of ‘driverless’ technology.
“HGVs alone were involved in 6,000 road accidents in 2013, comprising a total of 8,448 casualties, 258 of which were fatalities. These are preventable, human-error accidents and the introduction of driverless technology has the potential to transform the haulage industry, with significant implications for the UK’s roads, in terms of safety and congestion, for its environment, business and the UK economy as a whole.”