Latest News 2017 October Driverless Cars Could Save Lives-& Billions of Dollars

Driverless Cars Could Save Lives-& Billions of Dollars

Austin is preparing for the future.

Their transportation infrastructure efforts, led by the transportation director Robert Spillar, are geared toward the first wave of driverless cars that have just been approved for widespread testing by the House of Representatives. These driverless cars will reduce traffic, save lives, and help the city save on building more roads.

However, Robert Spillar had a startling realization:

The municipal model for revenue could be utterly useless in just a few years.

Half of Austin's budget for new roads, infrastructure improvements, and transportation capacity comes from parking and traffic-related fees. Parking fees alone make up a quarter of the department's revenue. Austin isn't alone either—as driverless cars loom on the horizon, cities are trying to figure out how they'll raise revenue in the future.

Driverless cars may eradicate revenue streams based on decades-old fees from:

  • Parking fines
  • Traffic citations
  • Camera ticket fines
  • Gas taxes
  • Vehicle registration
  • Licensing

In a study conducted by Governing Magazine, a trade magazine for policy writers, they found that 25 cities employed the above streams to raise $5 billion in 2016. New York City alone raised $1.2 billion from parking and traffic charges. In terms of traffic revenue alone, cities are liable to lose hundreds of millions as driverless cars render parking garages, fees, and traffic citations obsolete.

A recent analysis on driverless cars from Morgan Stanley predicts that cities will lose $1.3 billion on average from the loss of fuel taxes, speeding tickets, and personal property taxes (because less people will own cars).

The Big Picture: How Driverless Cars Help Cities Stay in Business

Good news for cities: Morgan Stanley's analysis also predicts the net positive impact of driverless vehicles will be around $500 billion for cities. Much of the savings will come from better road use and the loss of parking garages—allowing precious metropolitan real estate to be used for more valuable purposes. Increase housing and office space will mean higher property tax revenues.

In addition, driverless cars will reduce the number of cars on the road. An analysis from Barclays predicts that household car ownership will drop by nearly 50%—reducing the need for new roads and highways. Some industry experts predict that a single autonomous vehicle could replace 12 regular cars.

Tens of Thousands of Lives Saved

The NHTSA reports that up to 33,000 people die every year from motor vehicle accidents. The administration believes that a large number of these people could be saved from injury or harm through the use of driverless vehicles. The estimated financial impact? Up to $18 billion in savings from reduced hospital visits, reduced need for emergency medical response, and reduced ER usage.

Driverless cars even affect law enforcement: 42% of police interactions are traffic stops, the second-largest portion of which are DUI stops. Autonomous vehicles would render DUI enforcement practically useless. This not only reduces the cost of policing and emergency response—it would spare all the lives lost due to DUI accidents.

Our car accident blog has long believed that driverless cars are the future, and we've celebrated the potential for saving lives that self-driving vehicles represent. We're glad to hear that the financial impact is as momentous as the impact on safety—and that safety and profitability are not at odds when it comes to autonomous cars.