Yes, fewer traffic fatalities is a good thing!
Taken by the recent headline of a piece I wrote with colleague Anne Hobson, “Self-driving cars will make organ shortages even worse,” Ben declares, in a wonder of incoherence:
Slate thinks that self-driving cars are the problems. Meaning that the real problem is that healthy young people aren’t dying at sufficient rates.
Ben’s histrionic content can be exhausting even when it bothers to reflect reality, but in this case, it simply doesn’t. In sum, the piece describes self-driving technology and a challenge that it may present—since even positive safety outcomes have externalities associated with them—before venturing toward a possible free-market solution.
It should be noted that R Street has advocated consistently for the rapid development and deployment of automated technology. At the same time, that rapid deployment will require considering the otherwise unexpected ways in which self-driving technology may affect society. The point of the Slate piece was to highlight a hitherto underappreciated issue. This is why we were as clear as we could possibly be in writing:
We’re all for saving lives—we aren’t saying that we should stop self-driving cars so we can preserve a source of organ donation. But we also need to start thinking now about how to address this coming problem.
Should folks like Ben wish to learn more about the technology, its upsides and the case for regulatory restraint, here are some links to R Street’s latest work on the issue:
Autonomous vehicles could change everything you know about traffic stops
Self-driving car makers shouldn’t have to ask NHTSA ‘mother, may I?’
In internet of things era, cybersecurity for autonomous vehicles will require restraint
Uber and California DMV fight over definition of self-driving cars
Don’t over-regulate driverless technology
The new federal safety guidelines for self-driving cars are too vague… and states are already making them mandatory