by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Matthew La Corte of the group Young Voices describes in a Daily Caller column how driverless cars might play a role in improving parental school choice.
Driverless capability comes with the initial promise to reduce traffic accidents and surrounding deaths and injuries by up to 93 percent, but the secondary effects could make tremendous waves in other areas of public life.
One of those places could be the U.S. school system, where one of the most significant barriers to school choice is transportation, especially for low-income families. Last week, the Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick wrote about the connection between driverless cars and the future of school choice or giving parents more freedom to choose the best schools for their children — whether it be public or private. The commute from home to school is often one of the most important deciding factors when it comes to choosing schools. Driverless cars have the ability to greatly lessen commuting time which opens available opportunities for parents to choose new schools.
The safety implications of a driverless car fleet are extraordinarily positive. Each year, over 30,000 Americans are killed in automobile accidents, and thousands more are injured. Human error remains the cause of 90 percent of these accidents. Accidents are cut down by removing the human element from the driving experience and implementing advanced computer systems that react faster than the naked eye. Similarly, reducing accidents will drastically limit congestion and increase the efficiency of roads as these vehicles allow for less following distance between vehicles. Driverless cars do not only increase mobility for the youth but also the disabled, the elderly, the drunk, the sick, and other groups who have faced traditionally limited travel options.
But aside from the safety, congestion, and mobility issues, driverless cars enable greater school choice for parents. As of now, if the schooling options in a given geographic area are all below average, the student does not have a choice for better education. In many cases, better schools are outside the geographic area and require timely commutes which make them unreachable, but driverless cars have the ability to change this.
This article fits well with the notion that school choice has environmental benefits, a concept pursued by a finance and real estate professor at N.C. State University.