BATH TOWNSHIP — Bath Township Trustee John Martin discussed the recent advances in technology in the auto industry that keynote speaker Charlie Kingdollar, Vice President of Emerging Issues, General Reinsurance Corp., presented during the Feb. 1 workshop session at the Ohio Township Association’s Annual Winter Conference in Columbus.
“The self-driving car is here. Sweden is using self-driving semi-trucks on the roads. We have had self-driving vehicles on the roadways in Ohio. General Motors is building a self-driving car production line,” Martin said. “The gist of it is that 4 million truck drivers in United States are going to be replaced sooner than you think. We, as municipalities and townships, will see lower revenues from gas taxes because there will be 50 percent fewer cars on the road.”
Martin pointed out that from the insurance standpoint, liability will soon rest on the shoulders of the manufacturer rather than the driver, and several manufactures are on board with the program.
“These experts figure that casualty losses from accidents will be reduced by 90 percent because you have taken out human error, and you will now be dealing with machine and technical error,” said Martin. “You will not own a car. You will just have an app on your phone. When you need a car, you will just use the app, and a car will appear.”
Martin pointed out that the driverless vehicle does not work well on dirt roads, according to Kingdollar. However, Audi plans to launch a self-driving car that can handle up to 80 percent of driving situations this year, and Tesla is planning to have a fully automated vehicle ready for use in approximately two years. BMW plans to have a driverless car available for sale by 2021, while Honda, Nissan and Toyota have announced that they are working on driverless vehicles as well.
“We are not a big municipality, and you got to think about what is going to happen with these self-driving cars. You have to ask what is coming down the road, and how are we going to handle it,” Martin said. “It is going to be a wake-up call.”
The Bath Township Board of Trustees will meet again in regular session, open to the public, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road in the township.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.