Auto Insurance for Blind May One Day Be a Reality

Red smart carWhat may have seemed like an impossible dream for the blind is making steps toward becoming reality. The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the National Federation of the Blind are working on a non-visual system that could make it possible for blind people to drive a car and, eventually, get car insurance.

The system developed by the Virginia Tech students uses laser rangefinders and precise audio commands to direct sightless drivers when to turn, stop or accelerate. Public Radio International reported that other prototypes would equip drivers with gloves and other special gear that will help blind people steer the road.

Experts are quick to point out that the technology will do more than just tell a person when to hit the brakes.

“This is not the car telling the blind person to turn right, this is providing the blind person information — information that people generally get through their eyes, but through a different method,” National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute executive director Mark Riccobono, told PRI’s The Takeaway.

The Jernigan Institute originally challenged university research teams in 2004 to devise a method to allow for the blind to drive. The Virginia Tech project was funded by a $3,000 grant from the National Federation of the Blind.

It has yet to be seen how auto insurance companies would take prospective clients’ blindness into accout when calculating premiums and coverage levels.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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