By Jaylen Pettiford, CommunityAmerica Insurance Agency
We are being driven by technology – literally! Self-driving cars, also known as autonomous vehicles, are on the rise. It’s like being chauffeured everywhere you want to go. From everyday car to the one of the future, here’s a breakdown of the 5 levels of autonomous vehicles:
LEVEL 0 – No Automation. This is your basic car with no bells and whistles. As the driver, you are in complete control of all aspects of driving, including speed, direction, braking and reacting to the environment.
LEVEL 1 – Driver Assistance. These options are in many newer cars today and include adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. With adaptive cruise control, the car can control and reduce your speed when traffic slows, and resume speed when traffic clears. With lane keep assistance, the car can nudge you back into your lane if you begin to drift. Both of these options still require that the driver be in control of the vehicle.
LEVEL 2 – Partial Automation. Think of this as a backseat driver that’s actually helpful. The car can assist in both controlling speed and steering, though the driver still needs to be able to react to the environment. It will help in stop-and-go traffic by maintaining distance between you and the car you’re behind. In addition, it will keep you positioned in the center of the lane. Though it’s important to note that road and weather conditions could impact the effectiveness of partial automation.
LEVEL 3 – Conditional Automation. “Look Mom, No Hands!” The vehicle is able to make driving decisions itself and the driver does not need to have their hands on the wheel. This comes with a caveat that the driving conditions must be perfect. The driver must stay alert and be ready to take over if the driving condition becomes less than ideal.
LEVEL 4 – High Automation. This could refine the family road trip. These vehicles can make long distance trips without human intervention. The only time a driver would be needed is during extreme weather and unusual circumstances, like a car crash or road construction. If the conditions are perfect, then the automation would be able to make the entire trip without a hitch. Currently, there are regulations limiting this type vehicle from being on the roads today.
LEVEL 5 – Full Automation. Sit back and relax, your car’s got this. It can handle the drive alone in all types of weather and road conditions. It could even mean no steering wheel or pedals are needed, if you’re willing to give up complete control. These will need GPS and Internet connection and if that’s lost the vehicle could use the old-fashioned driver, You.
If you find yourself ready to take the leap, be prepared to open your wallet. While self-driving features come at a price, it’s important to keep in mind that they can potentially keep you safer. That begs the question: If autonomous vehicles are safer, does that mean your auto insurance premiums might be less? Well, it’s still too soon to tell on that one. We all know how much an accident can impact your life, both financially and physically. Features that help avoid incidents on the road and keep you safe are worth something, if not just simply peace of mind.