October 31, 2013


Driverless Cars Sound Awesome, But The Actual Economic Impact Is Going To Blow Your Mind (Ben Schiller, 10/31/13, Co.Exist)

 Computers are already better drivers than tired, drunk, and distracted humans. More than 40% of fatal crashes today are caused by alcohol, drugs, or fatigue. Up to 90% of crashes are the result of errors, rather than equipment or infrastructure failures. It may be a while before AVs can deal with complex or unusual conditions. But Eno expects it to happen. AVs could cut accidents to 1% of current rates, or nearer to aviation or rail levels, it estimates.

AVs will also do a better job of sensing and anticipating the movement of other cars, leading to smoother braking and better fuel usage. Eno expects AVs to use "existing lanes and intersections more efficiently through shorter headways, coordinated platoons, and more efficient route choices." Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication could allow cars to drive closer together (as seen here) and reduce stop-starting on freeways. Reducing accidents will also help cut congestion.

Putting all factors together, Eno estimates the potential benefits in reduced crashes, lives lost, and economic gains. The numbers are impressive. At a 10% AV penetration rate, it expects 1,100 lives saved a year, 211,000 fewer crashes, and $5.5 billion in economic savings. At 50%, it predicts 9,600 fewer fatalities, 1.8 million fewer crashes, and $48.8 billion in savings. At 90%, it says there could be 21,700 fewer deaths, 4.2 million fewer crashes, and $109.7 billion in savings.

AVs could cut accidents to 1% of current rates, or nearer to aviation or rail levels.
And those are just the economic savings from reduced crashes. When you include fuel and congestion benefits, and more efficient parking, the number gets on for half a trillion dollars a year ($447 billion). That's not chump change.

Posted by at October 31, 2013 6:18 PM

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