Would you let your child travel in a driverless car?

Last week, we came across an interesting article about autonomous vehicles. Apparently in January 2017 Volvo are testing 100 of their XC90’s on the streets of Gothenburg in Sweden, all with the ability to use auto pilot!  But also with the understanding that in very bad weather or at the end of the planned journey the person sat in front of the steering wheel, aka the driver, takes over the controls.

This got us thinking….. Could this be the end of the need for child car seats?family-and-side-view-of-car

If in the future we have vehicles that can be used without a driver and they would be capable of using technology that makes it impossible to collide with other vehicles, street furniture and pedestrians.

Could you instead sit your child on the vehicles seat with a pile of toys and treats and just let the car do its stuff?

Ironically, this testing is being done in Sweden, where their child casualty rates for road crashes is extremely low, due to their vehicles, road designs and attitudes towards child in car safety.  Could the simple trial of these autonomous vehicles change their safety records overnight?  And not necessarily in a positive way?

In the UK, we often quote the fact that 95% of all road traffic collisions are due to human error. This is either from things like bad driving, poor judgements, failure to maintain a vehicle or poor workmanship. So if this was taken out of our human hands, could we see a drastic change in the number of deaths and serious injury on our roads?

It’s true that nobody is completely convinced that all of us want a car that needs no human assistance. Surely it would need everyone to buy into this system otherwise it wouldn’t work?

At least this trial uses cars with steering wheels – Ford have said that they expect production of cars without steering wheels by 2021 – that’s less than 5 years away!

But thinking back to the children, we could potentially save ourselves money on the cost of a car seat, as well as reduce our worry about other “dangerous drivers” but probably increase our stress levels as to “what if someone hacks into my cars account and send it up the wrong way of the motorway?”

" Mummy why is everyone else going that way?"

” Mummy, why is everyone else going that way?”

Would we be trusting enough to let it take complete control of us and our loved ones? On a positive note; you could catch up on your sleep, you could send the kids to school without actually dealing with the school gate parking and it would prevent the need for a designated driver on those occasional nights out you get when you’re a  parent – but at what cost?

Maybe we are just cynical and so set in our ways that we don’t trust something else to do a better job than we can do?

We ran a campaign many years ago which had the strap line – Why spend 9 months making something so beautiful, just to throw it all out of the window?  We can’t help but think we may need to resurrect this message again soon.

Julie Dagnall

Director – Child Seat Safety Ltd