Should we be worried? Frankly, yes! I do believe there are loads of likely positive impacts for society associated with driverless technology; however, the risk of significant VMT (vehicle miles traveled) increase is HUGE. Here’s why I think so:
- People may forego transit and any form of carpooling/ridesharing due to the added convenience of AVs (e.g., commutes to work, kid transporting to and from school and after-school activities, etc.).
- People may send their AVs out for errands (with no passengers) and forego trip linking or add additional errands (e.g., stop at the additional grocery store where the paper goods are cheaper).
- People or companies may park their vehicles in remote parking lots outside of our urban centers.
- People may let their AVs drive in circles in close proximity to an event with high attendance so it’s ready to pick them up as soon as it’s finished (e.g., conference, fair).
- Urban sprawl increases as people are willing to live farther from where they work.
On the other hand, there is still hope! Here’s why:
- TNCs (i.e., Uber, Lyft) are making sharing rides with strangers that much more commonplace.
- Technology, in general, is making ride sharing a more convenient, accessible option.
- Government may set pricing and policies that either incentive ridesharing and vehicle sharing or disincentivize car ownership, single occupancy vehicle travel, significant VMT, or parking.
- Government may invest in a reliable, seamless, well-priced public transportation system.
What do you think?