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Imagine the Future

Self-driving car

As business owners and leaders of our organizations, it’s our responsibility to imagine possibilities. It’s our responsibility to have a vision of the future and to plan and prepare for the changes ahead.

Most of us have seen in the last year or so how auto manufacturers – and Google – are developing cars that will drive themselves. Many legal hurdles will have to be overcome and the technology still needs to be tweaked, but we are likely 5 to 10 years away from this reality. Can you imagine the possibilities and changes to our future lives with this advancement?

Before you shrug off this consept, keep in mind, the first CEO (Eric Schmidt) was hired for Google just in 2001.

Business owners, officers and managers in any organization with a fleet of vehicles know that those vehicles are their greatest risk. According to a report in Health Day recently, approximately 7,000 people are sent to the emergency room every day for injuries due to vehicle accidents.

These numbers are declining, but an estimated 2.5 million people in the USA are injured in car accidents every year. These accidents cost $18 billion dollars solely in medical expenses. The Centers for Disease Control estimates these accidents cost us $33 billion in lost wages annually.

Now picture safer roads, fewer accidents, and less frequent horror stories that we tend to hear too often in the community or on the news. Computers don’t have bouts of road rage. Drinking and driving, texting, cell phone usage and a number of other commonplace dangers can be reduced.

Imagine riding in your car while preparing for a meeting, taking a nap, having a last minute shave … or a woman putting on her makeup while NOT looking in the rearview mirror. Pizza delivery may become radically different. Errands can become more convenient, and our teenagers may even be able to get to the prom or be picked up from school without Mom or Dad driving them.

Could this technology even change the business of long haul trucking? Can you see deliveries being made across the country without the worry of truck drivers being behind the wheel for too many hours? Imagine purchasing an item online and sending your car to pick it up without you even leaving your home.

Imagine the elderly not losing their mobility and independence because they can no longer have the physical capability to drive. Can you envision dating services cropping up in which car occupants can communicate with each other now that they don’t need to pay attention to the road? Most women know that most guys do that already! Can you see cars and trucks having the technology to communicate with traffic lights to prevent excessive wait times? I can.

I can also imagine all this added convenience having some downsides like more cars on the road, but a larger number of cars behaving predictably could actually represent an improvement in traffic congestion. The car culture in this country could even drastically change. I don’t see Americans spending $50,000.00 or $100,000.00 on a muscle car if they can’t control the accelerator. I’m not saying I have a lead foot, but really, what would be the point of a self-driving muscle car?

Auto body shops and attorneys who rely on auto accidents for business may be adversely affected but is that really a bad thing?  Cars will still need repair, and we’ll still need lawyers for sure.

But just imagine!

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations.  Reach him at mike@pbirestores.com.