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Self-Driving Cars Could Make Jaywalking Legal

Eric Loseke, Science and Technology Editor

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A report that the National Association of City Transportation Officials, or NACTO, released recently laid out an idea for streets when self-driving vehicles start driving on roads, but it is unclear if cities will accept the plan. NACTO suggests that self-driving cars have a top speed of 20 miles per hour, allowing pedestrians to cross streets at any location at any given time, not just at certain street intersections. Restricting the speed that profoundly would significantly affect speed in vehicles, extending the trip time it takes to go from place to place.

The technology would work with self-driving cars being able to identify when someone tries to cross a street and would slow down, which would impact how people view jaywalking. The authors of the NACTO report say that what we currently call “jaywalking” would become simply “walking,” as the dangers would be significantly less. The organization sees using self-driving technology to change how streets work. Under the plan in their blueprint, the most vulnerable people on the road – pedestrians and cyclists – would benefit the most. Right now, it is common for people to have to walk several hundred feet out of their way so they can cross the street safely at an intersection.

Although jaywalking is still considered illegal, the rule is often unenforced, unlike how it was years ago. This could change, as NACTO’s plan would make it easy to cross streets. However, the report claims that in the future, depending on city and government policies could be different. Traffic and emissions could rise dramatically, and pedestrians would need to cross streets on bridges, and less affordable and accessible transportation systems could replace our current ones.

The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, which represent self-driving car companies like Ford, Uber, Waymo, and Volvo, said in response to the report that self-driving vehicles would be programmed to follow the rules of the road like speed limits. Some experts believe that city life will change dramatically with the introduction of self-driving cars, but cities would have to weigh tradeoffs, choosing whether to make vehicles, pedestrians, or other uses of streets as their main priority.

In conclusion, NACTO released a report that laid out an idea for streets that allows self-driving vehicles to start driving on roads with a top speed of 20 miles per hour that would slow down after detecting pedestrians trying to cross the road. The concept would allow jaywalking to become legal, and pedestrians and cyclists would benefit from dangers in the road being significantly reduced, but although our goal is to get these cars on the road, the technology would have to stay affordable and accessible and has to be a priority of cities.

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Self-Driving Cars Could Make Jaywalking Legal