VIDEO: Self-Driving Cars Will Make Traveling Safer and More Efficient


This morning, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is releasing a new video on automated vehicles (a/k/a self-driving cars) and how they could make our roads dramatically safer. They could, that is, as long as government regulators don’t throw up unnecessary roadblocks to their deployment. See what Congress can do to get the automated future rolling in this recent blog post.

A transcript, featuring analysis by CEI Senior Fellow Marc Scribner, is below:

Every 50 years technology revolutionizes transportation—helping us get places faster, cheaper, and safer. Think about it, in just a few generations we’ve gone from horse-drawn carriages and steamships, to SUVs and jetliners.

Today, we’re working on another amazing breakthrough: self-driving cars. From sci-fi movies to real life roads in a few short years, self-driving cars are part of the automated vehicle revolution.

This new technology is arriving with goals of making transportation safer, more accessible, and more efficient. And it WILL, if we untie these developers from outdated safety regulations and red tape.

The problem is: many auto safety regulations date back to the 1980s when desktop computers were first hitting the market. Now nearly every car has a computer in it. And these same regulations are preventing safer technologies from coming to market. The rules assume a human is behind the wheel, manually operating pedals and switches. Even though this doesn’t make sense for a self-driving car, they still have to meet these same requirements. On top of that, some lawmakers want new requirements — before critical engineering standards have even been written — and to halt all real-world testing.

Now let’s look at the cost: Nearly 40,000 people per year die as a result of car crashes in America, and about 94 percent of these crashes result from human error. Very few cars built today are unsafe—it’s the loose nut behind the wheel that most often threatens our safety on the roads. Self-driving cars could be the solution.

Imagine a transportation system where simple day-to-day distractions would no longer be matters of life and death on our highways. Think about what this technology could mean for the elderly and disabled?

We’re still years away from self-driving cars going to mass market, and the technology has many challenges to overcome. But halting real-world deployment of self-driving cars and other automated vehicles is NOT a solution.

We need to untie entrepreneurs from bureaucrats and outdated safety standards, and keep making progress on these potentially life-saving vehicles, because slowing down self-driving cars could be a fatal mistake.

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See more on transportation and infrastructure issues from CEI here.