HomeCar CultureIs 2050 the end of the road for driving?

Is 2050 the end of the road for driving?

Report says autonomous technology will match human drivers by 2024 and world’s roads could be collision-free by 2040s


It looks like Hagerty has its work cut out for itself, and may need whatever income is generated by its upcoming IPO if it hopes to achieve its mission to save driving.

We say that because IDTechEX suggests that people driving cars will be outlawed by 2050.

IDTechEX is a British market research, business intelligence and specialist in emerging technologies that recently published a report entitled “Autonomous Cars, Robotaxis & Sensors 2022-2042.” 

In a summary of that report, it suggests, the technology used in autonomous cars will match or exceed human-driver safety by 2024.

Log regression trend. Source: IDTechEx analysis of California DMV and NHTSA data

“By the 2040s, they will be capable of fulfilling the world’s mobility needs without a single collision,” it predicts. “So why should humans be allowed to continue driving?”

It adds: “Eventually, manual driving could become completely illegal on public roads in the interest of safety. This is not to say that manual driving will completely disappear but may be relegated to a sport, reserved for racing and track days.”

While such prospects may be frightening to those of us who love to drive, IDTechEx says the elimination of humans at the wheel is a matter of public safety and even of criminal neglect.

“For a long time,” it reports, “the parameters around how we can drive our vehicles have been restricted. Speed limits exist to increase safety, seatbelts are mandated to increase safety, and city centers are becoming pedestrianized to increase safety for pedestrians. 

“An example is Barcelona, Spain, where super-blocks exist to create large car-free areas. These areas are not only safer for pedestrians but also improve local air quality and create a greener, more pleasant space within the city. 

“In other cities, clean air zones are already controlling the type of vehicle allowed in cities. As the maturity of autonomy increases it is conceivable that these zones could become autonomous-only, to improve inner-city pedestrian safety, then rolled out to entire cities, mandating that travel inside the city may only be conducted by autonomous drivers. 

“Eventually, manual driving could become completely illegal on public roads in the interest of safety. This is not to say that manual driving will completely disappear but may be relegated to a sport, reserved for racing and track days. 

“Imagine being pulled over by the police with a car full of people not wearing seat belts, the police officer says, ‘if you crashed, you could have killed someone.’ Now the same scene but instead of not wearing seatbelts you are operating a vehicle manually in an autonomous-only town center. 

“The assumption is that the technology will save lives and not using it is criminally negligent. Would this progression be so unusual? Technology has always caused changes to the laws on how we operate vehicles; as vehicles became faster, speed limits were introduced. When mobile phones emerged their use in vehicles had to be outlawed; as autonomous drivers outperform humans will we be banned from driving altogether?“

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Got to laugh. …..humans crash but autonomous vehicles have disengagements….. So we are cruising along and you vehicle has a disengagement, what happens next? A crash?
    I get the health aspects of cities. Makes sense. But, most crime is in cities, most generational poverty is in cities, most gun violence is in cities, most health issues are in cities. See where I’m going with this…….Let’s use our collective brain power and our brilliant engineers, scientists and doctors to improve quality of life, education, and health for people that chose to live in cities. Will somebody tell the world that cars are 40 times less likely to pollute today vs 1966 or the major cause of car “disengagements” is poor drivers not cars. And dare I say…..AI is just that artificial intelligence, not real intelligence. Just like artificial flowers. So, at your next significant event give your wife artificial flowers and see how that goes for you……..


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