One of the potential revolutions that has most captivated the public — especially since we are still waiting for our jetpacks — are cars without drivers. From the Batmobile, to Christine, to Das Hoff, the days when a self-driving vehicle answers our call are soon coming. Indeed, Google’s driverless cars have already traveled over a quarter million miles, and states are changing laws to accommodate the technology.
But with over 1 billion cars on global roads, it is not just the driving experience that will change. Indeed, the advent of driverless cars means that cities will begin to look different — one study cites that as much as one-third of city land is reserved for parking, while estimates abound that our cars spend up to 98% of their lives parked — capacity that companies like Zipcar and Cars2Go are trying to release.
However the prospect of driverless cars isn’t all upside. Consider the loss of revenue as parking becomes more efficient:
In Washington [DC], an average of six parking tickets are issued every minute of a normal workday. That is about 5,300 tickets on each of those days. Those slips of paper have added up to $80 million in parking fines a year.
Not many tears will be shed for the ticket man, but it’s not just clueless parking officers. Some estimates are that 90% of automobile accidents would be eliminated by driverless cars, so what happens to the multimillion dollar auto insurance industry? And if no one is behind the wheel, what happens to the brand that is the ultimate driving machine? The economic impact of driverless cars adds an additional layer of complexity, and might be a ride that provides more thrills.