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May 22, 2014

For Self Driving car future, Traffic tickets are a trivial $6.5 billion for the USA vs $100 billion from relieving traffic jams another $100 billion from few deaths and injuries and 4 times more road capacity for larger cities and a potential 30% Urban GDP boost

A highly popular article on Slashdot and Reddit Futurology makes note that the Google driverless car has not gotten a traffic ticket after driving 700,000 miles.

Local government revenue in the USA was $1.73 trillion in 2014.

So the traffic tickets make up 0.38% of the local government revenue.
Self driving cars could save $500 billion in the USA from avoided crashes and traffic jams and can boost city productivity by 30% of urban GDP after a few decades enabling larger and denser cities.

So traffic tickets are 1.2% of the $500 billion from avoided crashes and traffic jams in the US. It is even less worldwide with more crashes and traffic jam costs.

It is 0.15% of the 30% of urban GDP.

In 2010, there were an estimated 5,419,000 crashes, killing 32,885 and injuring 2,239,000 in the United States.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012, up 3.3 percent from 32,479 in 2011. In 2012, an estimated 2,362,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes, up 6.5 percent from 2,217,000 in 2011.

In 2012, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,073; the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $14,653.

In 2012, the average collision claim was $2,950; the average comprehensive claim was $1,585.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in 2010 that the cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with motor vehicle crash injuries was over $99 billion, or nearly $500, for each licensed driver in the United States.

All car crash costs in the USA are estimated at $400 billion per year.

In 2013, worldwide the total number of road traffic deaths remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year



Traffic Congestion $100 billion cost in the USA

In the USA, using standard measures, waste associated with traffic congestion summed to $101 billion of delay and fuel cost.

The cost to the average commuter was $713 in 2010 compared to an inflation-adjusted $301 in 1982
Sixty million Americans suffered more than 30 hours of delay in 2010

1.9 billion gallons of fuel were wasted because of traffic congestion

Traffic congestion caused aggregate delays of 4.8 billion hours.

Transport 2012.org puts a 200 billion Euro price tag on congestion in Europe (approximately 2% of GDP). Central America also has its traffic woes. Let’s not forget other countries. On the weekend, Panama found that the price of congestion for business and the community was somewhere between $500 million-$2 billion annually. According to the Asian Development Bank, road congestion costs economies 2%–5% of gross domestic product every year due to lost time and higher transport costs.

More traffic density and Larger, More Productive City populations can boost GDP by 30%

Google told the world it has developed computer driving tech that is basically within reach of doubling (or more) the capacity of a road lane to pass cars. Pundits don’t seem to realize just how big a deal this is – it could let cities be roughly twice as big, all else equal.

Seminal work by Ciccone and Hall (1996) assessed the impacts of density on productivity in the US, and found that doubling employment density, and keeping all other factors constant, increased average labor productivity by around 6%. Subsequent work by Ciccone (1999) found that in Europe, all other things being equal, doubling employment density increased productivity by 5%. A third paper (Harris and Ioannides, 2000) applies the logic directly to metropolitan areas and also finds a 6% increase in productivity with a doubling of density.

More recent work by Dan Graham (2005b, 2006) examines the relationship between increased effective density (which takes into account time travelled between business units) and increased productivity across different industries. Graham finds that across the whole economy, the urbanisation elasticity (that is, the response of productivity to changes in density) is 0.125. This means that a 10% increase in effective density, holding all other factors constant, is associated with a 1.25% increase in productivity for firms in that area. Doubling the density of an area would result in a 12.5% increase in productivity.

Economist Robin Hanson noted that doubling the population of any city requires only about an 85% increase in infrastructure, whether that be total road surface, length of electrical cables, water pipes or number of petrol stations. This systematic 15% savings happens because, in general, creating and operating the same infrastructure at higher densities is more efficient, more economically viable, and often leads to higher-quality services and solutions that are impossible in smaller places. Interestingly, there are similar savings in carbon footprints — most large, developed cities are ‘greener’ than their national average in terms of per capita carbon emission.

Road capacity could be boosted by 4 times using robotic cars. This could be another 30% boost to productivity.

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