The Safety Implications of Driverless Cars

Most articles cite the potential for improved public safety – with the potential elimination of 90 percent of automobile accidents that are caused by human error (source).  It will mean a lot less accidents, which has positive implications on our safety in addition to congestion!  Moreover government can spend a lot less public funding on incident management (this study found that seven percent of vehicle crash costs are paid for by public revenues).

That list of potential benefits of autonomous vehicles is tremendous; however, I think the potential for safety improvements is even greater. In a world that is 100% autonomous vehicles, roadway widths can probably be reduced, which means sidewalks and bikeways can be increased. In fact, roadways with protected bikeways could become the norm (which, as this article shows, has significant positive safety implications).  Since many cities are focused on “Vision Zero” initiatives, autonomous vehicles could fit in nicely!

Are there other safety implications that I’m not thinking of?  Please post ideas!

About Lauren Isaac

Lauren Isaac is the Director of Business Initiatives for the North American operation of EasyMile. Easymile provides electric, driverless shuttles that are designed to cover short distances in multi-use environments. Prior to working at EasyMile, Lauren worked at WSP where she was involved in various projects involving advanced technologies that can improve mobility in cities. Lauren wrote a guide titled “Driving Towards Driverless: A Guide for Government Agencies” regarding how local and regional governments should respond to autonomous vehicles in the short, medium, and long term. In addition, Lauren maintains the blog, “Driving Towards Driverless”, and has presented on this topic at more than 75 industry conferences. She recently did a TEDx Talk, and has been published in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune among other publications.
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