Global study shows driverless cars set to save world economies billions in lost GDP


A new report says the development of autonomous driving technologies could dramatically reduce the financial losses due to traffic accidents that are currently costing world economies billions of dollars each year.

Autonomous driving technologies are revolutionizing the automotive industry with their promise to improve vehicle safety and reduce traffic accidents. A new study by experts at Australian fleet management consultancy Global Positioning Specialists (Global PS) shows the monetary impact of these technologies on GDP and reveals how much GDP could be saved through driverless cars in 73 countries. Global PS combined the percentage of GDP lost to traffic accidents with the total GDP of each country alongside the percentage that driverless technology could reduce traffic accidents, to calculate both the total GDP lost to traffic accidents each year and the amount of GDP that driverless technology could save.

The USA topped the list of countries, with over US$340bn being lost to traffic accidents each year, the largest amount of GDP lost in the world. If all vehicles in the USA were driverless, the amount of GDP lost could be substantially reduced. In particular, GDP lost to traffic accidents could be cut by over US$306bn a year. While the USA loses the most GDP to traffic accidents, South Africa has the highest percentage of GDP lost to traffic accidents in the world (7.8%), but because of a much lower GDP, South Africa, where driverless tech could have reduced lost GDP by over US$21bn, ranked 13th. The UK and Australia, ranking 8th and 9th respectively, both lose over US$28bn GDP to traffic accidents each year. The Global PS report says driverless cars could save the UK and Australia over US$25bn each year.

“This research has two facets to it,” commented Lucile Michaut, head of Global PS. “On one hand there is the amount of money we spend on accidents each year, which in itself is interesting. Then you realize how many of these accidents could be avoided with new driverless technology. Governments will never spend on investing in things like this unless there is concrete evidence, but here we have proved there are strong economic reasons to invest in driverless technology, as well as the obvious improvement to public safety.”

Tables: Global Positioning Specialists (

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).