Autonomous Vehicles and Public Health
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Picture: ARUP group website
It is expected that the development of self-driving cars, or autonomous vehicles (AVs), offers the potential to dramatically affect public health. The AVs can contribute to the health by:
1) Improving the Roadway Safety. It is shown that the human error is responsible for 93% of the crashes. AVs has the potential to significantly reduce the crashes caused by human error.
2) Being More Environment-friendly. Many studies conducted to present the contribution of AVs to traffic congestion. The less congestion, the less emission. On the other hand, AVs encourage long-distance trips which can be translated to more Vehicle Mile Traveled (VMT). AVs are supposed to manage acceleration/deceleration of vehicle more efficiently which will lead to reduce noise, tire and brake dust.
3) changing in the City Size. After penetrating the AVs into the market, households are not as willing as before to own a car given the ownership costs. Consequently, the parking places are not required anymore and the cities parking spaces can be used for other purposes. This may result in compact city design with shorter distances between origin and destination. The short distance trips would encourage the travelers to use the active transportation and benefit from the physical activity. On the other hand, the AVs are making the long distance trips more favorable which may cause in city sprawl. This will lead to higher VMT and consequently, more air pollution.
4) Reducing the Stress. The traffic congestion and delays are associated with stress. AV can contribute significantly in reducing the stress from driving.
5) Reducing Social Exclusion. AVs are making traveling more pleasant. In this case, people are motivated to participated in social activities. Also, reducing the delays provides more time to be spent in social activities.
Do you think of other ways the AVs can contribute to public health?
Our work on this topic is now published: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2210670720306776