I’m not quite sure that I have a definite opinion on the matter, but figure that it’s worth sharing here so as to get a discussion on the matter going — a commentator on the Tesla Motors Club forum by the name of Curt Renz recently shared the template for a letter that he had sent to government officials concerning a possibly reduced need for police patrols and personnel following the widespread adoption of self-driving cars.
The basic idea is that, since self-driving cars won’t be breaking the rules of the road, there will be less of a need for patrol cars once there’s widespread adoption of the technology. Such a situation would also cut heavily into the revenue of many police departments, though — as the issuance of traffic tickets is a lucrative business nowadays.
And while I understand the argument, and that government’s looking to slash expenses could possibly consider the information relevant, I also have a hard time imagining many police departments happily accepting notable reductions in their traffic patrols.
Hard to tell what will happen exactly.
Here’s the template letter mentioned above:
The coming of autonomous cars will lead to lesser needs for police personnel and equipment. The cars will obey speed limits, stop signs, red lights, etc. Accidents will be greatly reduced as the self-driven cars are much safer. This will particularly become so when all cars communicate with each other to avoid collisions. I suggest that government officials prepare for this when planning future police and sheriff department needs.
A commentator by the name of “cpa” responded to this post with some points that I think are worth noting: “A noble gesture to say the least, Curt. But I am cynical enough that the police will not see fit to reduce their budgets when and if autonomous vehicles take over our streets and highways. It is very difficult to reduce government spending in a particular agency once they are used to a minimum amount each fiscal period. Perhaps there won’t be as much revenue generated from traffic fines, but clever legislators and others will find a way to have special assessments or other laws to make up for some, if not most, of the lost revenue. Perhaps the police can redirect their efforts to other enforcement responsibilities if traffic enforcement and accident investigations drop substantially.”
Altogether, interesting. But I’m inclined to think that large-scale adoption of self-driving vehicles won’t have any real affect on police forces. Taxi and trucking jobs, on the other hand, stand to rapidly get wiped out of existence — the potential savings/profits are far too high for the relevant companies to not embrace the tech very quickly.
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