On Wednesday, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) held a public hearing on new proposed restrictions on the testing of autonomous vehicles in New York City. The new rules would slow or halt the testing of AVs by imposing a new citywide permitting process, including some requirements that duplicate state permitting and other requirements that are prohibitively impractical.
Montana Williams, Director of State and Local Public Policy for Chamber of Progress, provided testimony at the DOT hearing.
“New York City has always been a place of creativity and innovation, but these rules would make New York one of the least hospitable cities in the U.S. for AV development,” said Williams. “With the tremendous potential of AVs to make New York City a safer and more equitable city, it is so important to test, improve, and deploy autonomous vehicles without delay. For the sake of supporting those with disabilities, addressing food deserts, and reducing traffic deaths, DOT should reject these additional hurdles to New York’s autonomous vehicle future.”
Autonomous vehicles offer a number of promising benefits for New Yorkers. Autonomous delivery vehicles could help to reduce food deserts by delivering groceries and food via low-speed, seatless, passengerless vehicles. AVs will help close the accessibility gap, providing increased mobility to the 930,000 people living with disabilities in New York City.
Importantly, AVs could also bring safer streets and reduce the number of accidents in New York City. In 2020, at least 243 people died in traffic related incidents in New York City. Research shows that at least 90% of car crashes are caused by human error, and studies suggest that putting AVs on the road now could save hundreds of thousands of lives over the long term.
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