Saving Lives and Time While Reducing Traffic Congestion

Traffic Congestion Solution in Offing

 

The driverless car is emerging as the most promising long term solution to traffic congestion. Up to this point, there have been few practical alternatives. The most obvious conventional alternative is expansion of roads, which is effective. However, expanding roads can be very difficult in urban environments. The other alternative, on which literally billions have been wasted, has be to entice drivers out of their cars into transit. This strategy is irrational, since few trips in urban areas can be made by transit in times that are remotely competitive with the car. Further, most trips in urban areas simply cannot be made by transit. A Brookings Institution report indicates that the average resident can reach 9 percent of the jobs in major metropolitan areas (those with more than 1,000,000 population) in 45 minutes. On the other hand, more than 75% of jobs are reached by car.

 

Driverless cars would have advantages over conventional cars. Their computer technology makes it possible for them to avoid collisions more reliably. They are able to operate more closely together, because their technology responds more quickly than people. Driverless cars operate within mixed traffic — there is no need for all cars to be driverless or to have driverless technology. Thus, the conversion can take place over years as the automobile fleet is renewed.

 

In short, driverless cars will save lives and they will increase highway capacity, without building a single foot of new roadway. Google and others have undertaken significant testing and the state of Nevada has now made driverless cars legal.

 

Given the strong association between superior mobility (minimizing travel times) and economic growth, driverless cars could do much to improve the future of urban areas and their residents around the world.

 

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