While the thought of sitting back and relaxing while your car acts as your chauffer sounds pretty awesome to anyone who suffers a long commute or can’t drive due to age or disabilities, there are natural questions about the safety of driverless car technology.  With connected capabilities that deliver route mapping and sensors galore to respond to traffic conditions, these cars are getting more effective and efficient by the day, but they’re not yet 100% automated and they still make mistakes like hitting pedestrians in crosswalks or failing to realize big rigs are making wide turns that will cut through their lane.

There’s another potential issue with autonomous cars and it concerns jobs and the economy.  The goal is for autonomous cars to one day replace cars driven by individuals, ostensibly creating safer road conditions free of driver error and alleviating some heavy traffic conditions via coordinated routing and speed control.  We’re not there yet, and the transition will certainly take time, but it may happen sooner than people can imagine.  What will be the impact to the economy?

New Jobs in Driverless Car Technology

The technologies that go into designing, building, and controlling automated cars will necessitate new jobs in design, engineering, and so on.  Some jobs, like assembly, will likely be carried out by computerized machines, and computer programming may largely control traffic flow and other concerns associated with getting driverless cars from point A to point B.

However, like any new technology, this is bound to spawn a host of new jobs related to creating, building, maintaining, and regulating the vehicles and their operations.  In addition, technicians will have to learn how to service, repair, and update these cars to ensure they continue running smoothly and remain safe for use.

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Dwindling Jobs Following the Transition to Autonomous Cars

While driverless car technology is bound to create new jobs, it’s also likely to reduce some current jobs related to the automotive industry, particularly when it comes to car accidents.  Drivers would agree that increased safety that reduces auto accidents is a good thing, but the truth is that there could be a loss of revenue for certain businesses, potentially resulting in decline for certain professions.

For example, reduced automobile accidents will mean that automotive repair shops, hospitals, and funeral homes could see a reduction in business.  Car dealers may lose sales when people don’t need to replace cars following accidents.  This is a difficult topic to weigh because obviously, no one wants to see more accidents, injuries, and deaths related to drunk, distracted, or poor driving involving human error.  However, it’s impossible to ignore that this turn of events could also impact the livelihoods of people in certain professions.

Other Economic Impacts

The growth of driverless cars is also likely to have an impact on certain aspects of the economy associated with vehicles and driving.  Take, for example, gas taxes.  If driverless cars are largely powered by petroleum fuels, then gas taxes will continue to create revenue for state and federal governments.  If most are designed as electric cars, however, gas taxes will eventually become moot and governments could lose significant revenue as a result.

With so many car manufacturers moving toward hybrid and electric vehicles already as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and do their part to protect the environment, it’s not inconceivable that autonomous car technology will be paired with electric engine technology to create safer and more eco-friendly cars of the future.

Traffic fines may also go the way of the dodo.  Can cars be fined for failing to obey traffic laws?  This is pretty unlikely since driverless cars are programmed to always follow the rules of the road, and passengers will simply claim they aren’t at fault for any infractions because they weren’t in control of the vehicle.  Moving violations will essentially become a thing of the past.

Then there is revenue related to parking.  No longer will cars get fined for remaining parked at a meter that has expired.  Passengers can be let out at their destination and then simply send their cars home or to nearby parking lots, for example.  Of course, municipalities could offset these losses by doing away with street parking and offering lot parking at a fee.  In addition, because passengers can park cars without being inside, more cars could be squeezed into lots, increasing storage revenue.

The truth is, we can’t know the full impact of driverless car technology until autonomous vehicles become the norm.  Until then, you can continue to buy, sell, and trade vehicles through DealerStrip, where dealers and consumers connect to make the most advantageous and mutually beneficial deals.

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