MAG News

Ninety-four percent of serious vehicle crashes are due to human error. More than 37,000 people in the U.S. died in vehicle crashes in 2016. The good news—the development of technology for automated vehicles offers enormous potential to improve safety.

Are Driverless Cars Safer?
Driverless Vehicle Technology Leading the Way to Fewer Crashes and Less Traffic

Transportation, Autonomous Vehicles

Ninety-four percent of serious vehicle crashes are due to human error.

More than 37,000 people in the U.S. died in vehicle crashes in 2016.

Crashes cost $242 billion in 2010.

Nearly 7 billion hours were spent in traffic delays in 2014.

These numbers from the U. S. Department of Transportation are shocking.

The good news—the development of technology for automated vehicles offers enormous potential to improve safety. Removing human error from the crash equation will help protect drivers and passengers, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. Companies are expected to spend $61 billion in research, development and capital investment on autonomous vehicles by 2023.

Arizona is at the forefront of this innovation, according to a recent presentation to members of MAG’s Economic Development Committee. Arizona is considered one of the top states for testing and has tested more than 600 autonomous vehicles, according to Sandra Watson, President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Watson was among the representatives from the Institute of Automated Mobility (IAM), a new group of private sector companies, public officials and university researchers. The goal: to collaborate in a state-of-the-art research and testing center. The focus: advance automated vehicle safety, science and policy.

One of the challenges facing the Institute is developing industry-driven validation of consistent safety standards, policies and technology solutions that don’t yet exist. 

“The Institute wants to work with industry to develop good policy that protects our citizens and increases the safety that is absolutely necessary in this industry, but allows our customers and corporate partners to continue to grow and innovate in this market,” said Watson.

One of IAM’s industry partners, Intel Corporation, launched the autonomous division in 2016. Intel’s Jill Sciarappo said the investment and technology for autonomous vehicles is already being seen in the advanced safety features of newer vehicles, such as lane keeping assist and forward collision warning. Sciarappo emphasized systems need to reach a certain safety threshold and be technology neutral. “One person’s car should not have a better seatbelt than mine, just as your autonomous vehicle should not be safer than mine.” 

Dr. Sethuraman “ Panch” Panchanathan serves as the senior policy advisor for science and technology to Governor Ducey. Dr. Panchanathan told the EDC the IAM is not just about the testing center, but also the knowledge and infrastructure that Arizona brings to the table. “The new ideas, new technologies, and new solutions that are all brought together is what makes the Institute unique.”

Published April 15, 2019

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The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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