Opinion: Regulation Must Precede the Mass Rollout of Autonomous Cars

The time to craft a comprehensive set of regulations governing safety, privacy, accessibility, and equity is now.

Read Time: 1 minute

November 14, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Small autonomous bus vehicle in Helsinki, Finland

Autonomous bus in Helsinki, Finland. | SariMe / Autonomous bus

In an op-ed in Next City, Yonah Freemark argues that the United States urgently needs new regulations governing autonomous vehicles. Freemark outlines the potential benefits of AVs: improved safety, more time for commuters, expanded access to transportation. “But there’s no guarantee these benefits will be achieved,” Freemark continues.

A botched AV deployment could result in more pedestrians exposed to traffic crashes. AV camera systems — essential to allow these vehicles to navigate the streets — could invade peoples’ privacy. And AVs, like current ride-hailing services, could offer less equitable access to mobility for people with low incomes, while producing more traffic than ever.

Freemark points to new research from the Urban Institute that shows how federal, state, and local regulations can guide the rollout of AVs to maximize benefits and minimize harms. Important steps include comprehensive driving tests aimed specifically at autonomous cars, regulations around privacy, and minimum service requirements to ensure equitable distribution of commercial AVs like those used by ride-hailing companies.

Monday, November 14, 2022 in Next City

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