For some enthusiasts, autonomous driving represents a potentially joyless future, perhaps offset by convenience and improved safety. For a large number of people – many who don’t currently drive – autonomous vehicles are an opportunity for equal access to transportation, a principle of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s a way for a blind person to get to work, or for a disabled veteran to make it to an important medical appointment. If done right, the quantifiable benefits of self-driving cars for the 57 million Americans disabilities could be enormous.
The Ruderman Family Foundation and Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) finds that by removing the sorts of mobility obstacles that driverless cars resolve, it would allow 2 million more people with disabilities to get to work. Every year, autonomous vehicles could save $19 billion in health care costs from missed appointments. But, the paper argues, the developers of the technology and the surrounding policy need to pay more attention to the needs of the disabled and elderly. Furthermore, disability advocates need to organize, and learn more about the autonomous mobility technology. Read more