Google’s Trillion-Dollar Driverless Car — Part 2: The Ripple Effects – Forbes
Governments would lose fines, because cars would all obey traffic laws. At the same time, though, governments would save by not having to pay police officers to write tickets. They would also save by not having to set up traffic lights or to light streets—the Google car can see in the dark. Governments could spend less on prisons, because there would be no such thing as a drunk driver. Any new roads could be narrower, and thus less expensive, than current roads, because driverless cars don’t need nearly as much spacing between vehicles as those with sometimes careless drivers do.
Governments Could Cut Back on Road Construction (Photo credit: ToddMorris)
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Governments could also cut way back on widening and expanding roads to reduce congestion, because the switch to driverless cars would make such a huge difference. At the moment, a freeway operating at maximum efficiency is about 5% covered with cars, but driverless cars can be packed together in platoons, with just inches between the bumpers—if the lead car has to slow down, it can simultaneously activate the brakes of all the cars behind it. The federal government spent $6 billion in 2009 on road widening and expansion, and state agencies spend more than $22 billion annually, so the savings on road work would be huge.
As government saves, though, utilities will lose as those traffic and street lights go away. Construction companies will lose as roadwork dives. Producers of cement and asphalt will likewise see business plunge.