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

I am the Manager of Transportation Sustainability at Parsons Brinckerhoff. Recently, I won the William Barclay Parsons fellowship for my research proposal to study how the United States government should respond to driverless cars. As I'm working on my research, I thought this blog would help to disseminate my findings and provide a forum for feedback.
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