Will Self-Driving Cars Cost California Millions in Revenue?

Thomas Lee : govtech – excerpt

The state collects around $300 millions from automotive fees based largely on human errors, but the influx of autonomous vehicles could cause this number to drop significantly.

When it comes to public finances, government officials tend to live in the moment. They might want to make an exception in this case.

Google, Uber and Tesla are all testing cars in which powerful software, not humans, operates the vehicles. It’s not hard to foresee the danger these self-driving cars pose to automobile sales, which is one reason why General Motors last week decided to invest $500 million in San Francisco on-demand car service Lyft. Smart move, since GM officials seem to be getting ahead of what could be the mother of all disruptions.

Mayors and governors should adopt GM’s forward thinking because driverless cars will inevitably drain hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue from public coffers each year.

Reduced car ownership will mean fewer automobile sales to tax. But perhaps more important, cops and meter maids will write a lot fewer tickets because smart cars presumably won’t double park, change lanes without signaling or bust through the speed limit. Since cars sit empty about 95 percent of time, self-driving cars can greatly increase efficiency by constantly being in use…

GAS TAX A FAILURE

“Increased fuel economy and electric vehicles have made the gas tax a failure,” said Richard Wallace, director of the transportation systems analysis group for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Yet you see no political will to do something” to replace the revenue…

FEE FOR CAR USE

Still, autonomous vehicles hardly represent a zero sum game. If self-driving cars are safer than human operated ones, fewer people will get hurt in accidents, resulting in cost savings for the taxpayer. The National Highway Transportation Administration estimates that public revenue pays 7 percent of vehicle crash costs. Therefore, autonomous vehicles could save taxpayers about $10 billion a year, according to the Brookings Institute.

Throw in less traffic congestion and need for road repairs, the savings could jump to more than $100 billion a year, the think tank said.

But states and cities will still need to offset the immediate loss of direct revenue from parking and traffic violations. One idea is to move to a system where the government charges people who use self-driving cars fees based on usage, including miles traveled. Last year, Oregon became the first state in the country to start such a pay-as-you-use program for all cars, not just self-driving ones, which charges about 1.5 cents per mile.

In any case, officials probably won’t deal with the problem until they see a dramatic drop in revenue, Williams said.
“Things will get so bad that they have to dream up some approach” to the issue, he said… (more)

RELATED:
The Costs of Self-Driving Cars: Reconciling Freedom and Privacy with Tort Liability in Autonomous Vehicle Regulation

Tesla software update allows self-parking, limits speed

How many problems could we expect to see to our economy, legal liabilities, and personal freedoms if self-driving cars take over the roads?
The self-driving cars are more expensive than Teslas, so, not many people can afford to own one. Insurance rates will be high. Many industry-related jobs could be cut out of the economy.
No way around it, public transit costs more than private transit. There must be a balance to pay the bills. Who is going to pay for the public transit systems when you remove the car drivers from the equation?
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One thought on “Will Self-Driving Cars Cost California Millions in Revenue?

  1. Reader comments:

    People act like driver less cars are just around the corner. That’s not reality at all. We are still decades away from using driver less cars on a large scale.

    The Feds have not created regulatory standards
    The technology is not cheap to build and maintain
    We can already hack car computers and shut down running Teslas. It will cost a fortune to secure and monitor a network like this for safely?

    The only way a fully self-driven car can exist on the road is the roads are highly restricted and highly coordinated much like a railway system.

    I’ve gotten terribly lost before using Google Maps, and even been prompted to drive off into San Francisco Bay because of a software glitch in Google Maps.

    Driverless cars will NEVER be able to drive through a blizzards and black ice on pavement because all cars can slide out of control in bad weather.

    I have zero faith that Google would be able to produce an autonomous car that would safely get someone from point A to point B in the real world. The real world is too unpredictable. The real world requires good judgement that only a human can make.

    Like

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