Driverless cars and their impact on traffic and safety

Self-driving cars are expected to transform road transportation to be safer and cheaper.


WASHINGTON, March 20, 2017 –In 2016, the average miles traveled by vehicles in the US was 3.1 trillion. With the entrance of autonomous vehicles and an increased number of travelers, it is expected that as of 2050, the miles traveled annually will increase by an extra 2 trillion miles.

Self-driving cars are expected to bring about a new era of safer and convenient mobility. Autonomous vehicles will lead to an increase in travel for the people aged over 65 years and those aged between 16 and 24.

Experts hold the opinion that autonomous vehicles will help ease the congestion of traffic. It is expected that they will improve urban transportation systems as people will own fewer private cars, therefore, reducing congestion as well as minimizing the carbon footprint.

Autonomous Vehicles on Traffic

Self-driving vehicles move through traffic with ease without the need for humans to control them. The cars provide ease of mobility to a wide range of people such as the elderly and disabled who normally have mobility restrictions.

Some factors determine the ease of maneuvering autonomous vehicles on state roads to reduce traffic congestion. The factors may include the vehicle’s level of automation and the degree of user adoption. With a well-established road network and infrastructure, autonomous vehicles will find it much easier to navigate urban areas.

A combination of road sensors data, the power of autonomous vehicles, and the location services available is expected to decrease traffic congestion significantly. For this to be accomplished, proper digital infrastructure is required to help synchronize the autonomous vehicles with the sensor data.

Self-driving cars are expected to transform road transportation to be safer and cheaper. Human error accounts for 90% of all traffic accidents, and autonomous cars minimize the occurrence of road carnages that result from human error.

Driverless cars will ultimately help reduce traffic congestion because they can travel faster and safer with lesser space between them. The lanes along the highway could be narrower because the autonomous vehicles don’t require a large margin of error. With human errors reduced, fewer or no accidents will occur and the traffic will be flowing smoothly.

Increased vehicle automation and better infrastructure improve connectivity for the self-driving vehicles to be able to communicate with their environment. This allows for there to be adequate and accurate information concerning the weather conditions, traffic, and the road conditions where the vehicle is cruising.

On average, the U.S. urban resident wastes approximately 38 hours every year trapped by traffic congestion. Moreover, they also have an annual cost of $818 from wasted time and fuel during congestion stoppages. 

The deployment phase of autonomous cars will be pretty hectic; the traffic situation is expected to get worse because both autonomous and traditional vehicles will be using the roads at the same time. Within the cities, a capacity increase of around 40% could be reached by a computer-controlled traffic, while that of highway increased by 80%.

Autonomous vehicles also ensure there is stability in the traffic flow even at high traffic volumes.

Legislative Requirements

As multiple states have embraced the autonomous vehicles on their roads, the municipalities and The Department of Motor Vehicles come together to formulate regulations for the operation of Autonomous vehicles on their roads.

The Texas Insurance Requirements for autonomous vehicles are held under the Senate Bill No. 1298 concerning the safety and performance of the driverless vehicle requirements. Regulations have been adopted to promote the safe operation of these vehicles. The bill demands that certification is provided to allow the operation of driverless cars on the state roads.

A significant increase in capacity is anticipated from the use of driverless vehicles. They will allow for efficient utilization of road infrastructure. The traffic jams and lost time from congestion are expected to become lesser and thus improve traffic flow.


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