2016 was a very eventful year for the auto insurance and car industries. From the advancement of self-driving vehicles to an insurtech boom and a new transportation secretary—a lot happened in the past 12 months. Here is a recap of the 10 biggest events that occurred in 2016.
1. The first “self-driving car” death occurred.
In May, a driver traveling in a Tesla Model S on autopilot mode—a SAE Level 2 automated vehicle—died when the car crashed into a tractor-trailer in Florida. Neither the autopilot or the driver distinguished a white tractor-trailer against the bright sky and the car collided with the vehicle, killing the driver Joshua Brown. This event was widely reported as the first self-driving car death. Of course, the Tesla Model S is not a fully autonomous self-driving car—those will not be available for years—and the drivers are still required to be prepared to take over the Tesla when necessary. There were also reports that an earlier January crash occurred in China. A Tesla Model S on autopilot mode collided with a street sweeper on the highway, instantly killing the driver. The May event was the first U.S. autonomous-related car death and both collisions raised concerns worldwide about self-driving vehicle safety and the need for increased regulation and public education.