Skip to main content

In the future, jaywalking may be legal thanks to self-driving vehicles

Self-driving vehicles may make jaywalking legal
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Automated vehicles will certainly not be going anywhere anytime soon, as they are steadily growing in popularity. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO),  a non-profit, recently released a report that maps out what the future could be like for pedestrians living in a world with more self-driving vehicles. It’s a solid blueprint that illustrates what safe and reliable urban mobility in our streets and highways could look like.

One point the blueprint makes is that pedestrians should have the freedom to be able to to cross streets anywhere, as opposed to only crossing at intersections. This would mean limiting self-driving vehicles to about 20 miles per hour. This will of course change how our streets function and operate. But once automated cars become more commonplace, you could be jaywalking without having to worry about getting into trouble. It’s even possible that jaywalking could become legal.

“The instinctive human act of walking straight to one’s destination, pejoratively known as ‘jaywalking,’ becomes simply ‘walking,’” the authors of the report write. The technology inside these self-driving vehicles will be able to use pedestrian-detection technology, slowing down or stopping in order to avoid hitting walking pedestrians. The idea of simply walking across the street suddenly starts to sound more safe.

Back when automobiles were first being created, jaywalking was a pretty common practice among pedestrians. It wasn’t until 1925 that it officially became illegal, starting in Los Angeles. City streets, much like city parks, were considered to be public spaces before then. The idea of streets being solely for automobiles picked up steam and spread to other jurisdictions.

“We have a historic opportunity to reclaim the street and to correct the mistakes of a century of urban planning,” Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO’s chair, said. This was echoed by the former commissioner of New York City’s transportation department, in the report.

It does look like there are some drawbacks to this look into the possible future. For one, since cars will be driving slower and making stops to allow for pedestrians, it will be taking people a lot longer to get to their desired destinations. There is also the possibility that a self-driving car could have a malfunction with its pedestrian-detection technology and cause accidents.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Jordan
Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger, as well as an aspiring screenwriter. Working in front of a computer and digesting…
An autonomous car in San Francisco got stuck in wet concrete
A Cruise autonomous car.

A self-driving car operated by General Motors-backed Cruise got stuck on Tuesday when it drove into a patch of wet concrete.

The incident happened in San Francisco and occurred just days after California's Public Utilities Commission made a landmark decision when it voted to allow autonomous-car companies Cruise and Waymo to expand their paid ridesharing services in the city to all hours of the day instead of just quieter periods.

Read more
Waymo taps the brakes on its autonomous-trucking project
A Waymo autonomous trick undergoing testing on a highway.

Six years after launching its autonomous-truck program, Waymo has said it’s decided to focus more on developing its ridesharing ambitions using its self-driving cars and minivans.

The California-based, Alphabet-owned company said its decision to effectively put autonomous trucking on the back burner is down to the “tremendous momentum and substantial commercial opportunity” that it’s seeing with the pilot ridesharing service it launched in Arizona in 2018 before taking it to several other states. Customers involved in the program can use an app to call a Waymo driverless car in the same way they would book an Uber.

Read more
Volkswagen is launching its own self-driving car testing program in the U.S.
Volkswagen self-driving ID. Buzz in Austin

Volkswagen is taking autonomous driving a little more seriously. While the likes of Tesla and Waymo have largely led the development of next-gen driving tech, the legacy automakers are certainly starting to invest more heavily. To that end, Volkswagen has announced its first autonomous driving program in the U.S.

As part of the program, Volkswagen has outfitted 10 all-electric ID. Buzz vans with autonomous driving tech, in partnership with autonomous car tech company MobileEye. Over the next few years, Volkswagen says it'll grow this fleet of autonomous cars to cover at least four additional cities, with the current fleet operating in Austin, Texas. By 2026, Volkswagen hopes to commercially launch autonomous cars in Austin.

Read more