Unstoppable? the gap between public safety and traffic safety in the age of driverless cars
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Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are already driving on some of the nation's streets and highways. AV technology is advancing quickly, and regulatory environments and market demands will result in its rapid diffusion throughout society. AVs are likely to dramatically reduce traffic collisions and motorist injuries, as long as those motorists become passengers only, not drivers, thus eliminating human error as a traffic safety hazard. With the traffic safety benefits of the AV, there will be little need for the traffic enforcement conducted by police and highway patrol agencies across the country today. Yet traffic stops are the most common form of face-to-face contact between police officers and citizens, and traffic enforcement has been a form of crime detection, deterrence and disruption in this country since the dawn of the automobile. This research examines the future of law enforcement in the age of the driverless automobile. It recommends that police and homeland security agencies engage with AV technology today so that they can innovate with that technology and find public safety substitutes for the traffic stop in a future where cars are unstoppable.
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