Summary: When safety is built-in and human error is eliminated, traffic fines become a thing of the past.

The advent of autonomous vehicles presents an uncomfortable situation for law enforcement across the world. On the one hand, road safety will drastically improve. On the other, when traffic laws aren’t being broken, traffic fines aren’t being accrued.

Excuse Me, Mr. Officer

For the vast majority of law-abiding citizens, our only interaction with police has been through traffic infractions. Since driverless cars don’t:

  • speed
  • run red lights
  • commit moving violations
  • or otherwise get distracted

and since these vehicles are expected to be well-maintained, most riders in autonomous vehicles (that they didn’t steal) may never again have the opportunity to turn on the faux waterworks in a feeble attempt to get out of a fine.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I have yet to meet anyone who actually enjoys paying traffic fines. However, these same people do enjoy the many amenities their cities are able to provide — amenities financed through the collection of these very fines.

Without this depended-on income, city governments will be forced to source funds from other sources— most notably: you.

While some business analysts foresee a per-mile riding tax, it’s more likely cities will simply increase sales and property taxes to make up the difference lost from the elimination of traffic fines. ■

What’s your take on driverless cars and the future of city budgets? Let me know in the comments!