Self-driving technology 'can cause more traffic congestion'

Survey indicates a need for levy on the use of private vehicles to combat increasing congestion

Self-driving technology 'can cause more traffic congestion'
Can driverless vehicles create more traffic congestion on Australia roads?


There is a possibility that self-driving vehicles can create more congestion on Australian roads, according to a recent survey.

Contrary to predictions that people will rideshare with self-driving vehicles, the University of Sydney Business School’s latest Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS) found that two thirds of people who said they’d buy a self-driving car also said they wouldn’t lease their vehicle to other users when not in use.

The findings of the quarterly survey came out of the School’s Institute of Transport and Logistic Studies (ITLS), and the results fly against predictions made by rideshare advocates.

The results of the TOPS survey prompted the Director of the ITLS, Professor David Hensher, to suggest that the government may have to impose a levy on the use of private cars in order to combat increasing congestion.

One in four survey participants said they would buy a self-driving car for family use and forty percent of participants said they would probably use their cars more as travelling became easier, while thirty percent said they would use their car instead of certain public transport.

Professor Hensher says the results indicate that there could be more traffic congestion on Australia’s roads rather than less as predicted by some transport analysts, and a deterioration in public transport services.

"The survey suggests a strong uptake which is encouraging at this stage in the debate on the future of driver-less vehicles; however the real challenge is getting society to become more sharing either by allowing others to use their cars or through a third party mobility plan" Professor Hensher says.

"Pundits promoting the virtues of driver-less cars, were suggesting that they would contribute to a significant reduction in traffic congestion. Our findings appear contrary to that view."

"We now need to contemplate how society more broadly and government might respond through new laws ensuring that disruptive transport technologies serve the public while managing their negative impacts through various measures including a private car use levy."

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