WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today released a comprehensive report quantifying the potential social and economic benefits of passenger autonomous vehicles (AVs).
The report, which employs the latest economic models to examine several scenarios around the introduction and adoption of autonomous vehicles, measures the potential for AVs to sharply reduce traffic accidents and fatalities, enhance people’s mobility and access, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide substantial economic benefits for the American people.
"As autonomous vehicle technology moves from proving grounds to city streets, this report quantifies the tremendous benefits these cars bring to consumers, businesses, and the economy, and presents a historic opportunity for the U.S. to lead in this industry of the future," said Jordan Crenshaw, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber's Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC). "However, autonomous vehicle policy in the U.S. is stuck in neutral, making it challenging to unlock the promising benefits of this transformational technology. Every year policymakers delay action pushes us further away from the day we can save more lives and help mobility-impaired Americans. This analysis should give policymakers a jump-start in championing a national AV framework that promotes the safe development, testing, and deployment of autonomous vehicles and reaffirms American technological leadership."
In analyzing the vast economic and social benefits associated with autonomous vehicle technologies, the report addresses the geopolitical implications of the emergence of AVs in U.S. and global markets and cautions that American producers will face strong competition from state-subsidized Chinese manufacturers and other foreign competitors.
"The country that leads the world in autonomous vehicle innovation will set the rules of the road for a generation," said Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, chairman of Sonecon, LLC, former Undersecretary of Commerce for the Clinton Administration and the lead author for this report. "This analysis—the first of its kind to model the range of potential economic and social benefits from autonomous vehicles—reveals the numerous benefits to safety, mobility, employment and the environment that await the country that successfully seizes the opportunity to lead in this emerging market. As intense international competition—especially with China—ensues over the production and sale of autonomous vehicles, the U.S. must leverage its technological edge to chart the course for the safe development and adoption of AV technologies."
The study revealed the following potential benefits of autonomous vehicles when they comprise 25 percent of the U.S. motor vehicle fleet, with 2021 as the baseline.
- Increased Safety: Autonomous vehicles could prevent 1,442,000 accidents and 12,000 fatalities, resulting in economic savings of $94 billion.
- Enhanced Mobility and Access: Autonomous vehicles could increase annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by persons with disabilities by 4.6 billion miles, elderly individuals by 4.9 billion miles, and nondrivers by 2.4 billion miles.
- Reduced Emissions: Autonomous vehicles could significantly improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions up to 8.2% and NOx emissions up to 8.9%, contributing to a healthier environment.
- Strengthened Economic Competitiveness: The growing AV sector is critical to bolstering the future of America’s motor vehicle industry—which employs over 4 million people—as well as enabling the growth of new and existing industries key to economic growth and competitiveness. Moreover, the mobility benefits of AVs also include gains in jobs and income for nondrivers, disabled people, and people living in areas with limited access to public transit.
While the timeframe for widespread AV adoption varies—with some experts predicting it to be within the next 5-15 years—policymakers can accelerate this timeline by adopting a national AV framework and revising safety standards to promote the continued innovation and development of this technology.
The U.S. Chamber has been calling for policymakers to take the necessary action to advance the development and implementation of this guidance. These recommendations include:
- Enact a National AV Regulatory Framework: Congress must enact a targeted national regulatory framework for AVs that increases the number of exemptions for innovative motor designs, expands AV testing, directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to modernize motor vehicle safety laws, and preserves the ability for the federal government to regulate the safety of AVs.
- Modernize Existing Safety Regulations: The U.S. Department of Transportation must update its existing safety regulations to accommodate novel motor vehicle designs, such as AVs, and create an effective national demonstration and deployment program to expediate the commercialization of AVs.
The full report is available here.