How driverless cars could kill the speeding ticket — and rob your city
One of the big benefits of driverless cars is that they aim to promote safety on the roads while reducing congestion at the same time. If cars are largely run by computers, talking to each other, they can travel closer together in a more coordinated fashion without fear of causing a fender-bender.
Those machines could obviously malfunction. But on the whole, driverless cars are known to behave more cautiously than their human operators. And by virtue of their, well, virtues, autonomous vehicles won’t know how to speed, run red lights, park illegally or make other traffic violations that would result in a ticket. And that could drive some city budgets into a deep hole.
Take the nation’s capital, which operates the most speeding and red-light cameras of any city in the country. In 2014, the District issuedan average of 773 tickets a day from its speeding cameras alone — adding up to roughly $37.5 million worth of fines, according to the latest figures fromAAA Mid-Atlantic. Since 2007, speed cameras have been a cash cow for the city’spolice, resulting in nearly $357 million in revenue, AAA said.
Last year the city pulled in less money from parking tickets, partly due to new, smartphone-compatible parking meters that allow drivers to keep track of their status online. And driverless cars will only accelerate that trend, said John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
“If you have one of these vehicles, your propensity for getting a speeding ticket or red-light camera ticket will be greatly diminished,” said Townsend. “It’ll be another step in the long progression of technology and how it is changing the outcome in the number of people who get tickets.”
I don’t drive but all I can say is “Hooray!”
Of course, once the money from tickets dries up city governments will have to look for ways to replace it.