Driverless Cars Could Save Thousands of Lives
We’re still a few years away from seeing fully autonomous cars roaming freely on U.S. highways (although Nevada, Florida and California may be seeing them a little ahead of the rest of us), but once the technology is more common, we could see a significant reduction in highway fatalities and lost productivity.
According to a new study from the Eno Center for Transportation, if 10% of vehicles were autonomous, the U.S. could see a reduction in highway fatalities of as much as 1,000 fewer deaths, along with a $38 billion reduction in lost productivity because of traffic congestion.
If 90% of vehicles were self-driving, we could save as many as 21,700 lives per year, and save $447 billion. The study, “Preparing a Nation for Autonomous Vehicles: Opportunities, Barriers, and Policy Recommendations” was written by Daniel Fagnant and Kara Kockelman of the engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin.
The assumption is that autonomous cars would reduce the most common causes of accidents: distracted or aggressive driving, drowsiness and intoxication.
Of course, to get there we need more affordable and more reliable autonomous vehicle technology, along with a new approach to vehicle design that recognizes the fact that “drivers” may be eating, working or sleeping in their cars during their commute.
You can download the original report from the Eno website.