Transportation Safety

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From airplanes and driverless cars to school buses and the conditions of roads, bridges, and transportation systems, the issue of transportation safety affects everyone. RAND research examines insurance liability and corporate and government policies, as well as how the three interact to promote safety on the ground, at sea, and in the air.

  • Multimedia

    How Safe Should Autonomous Vehicles Be Before They're Introduced to Market?

    Nov 7, 2017

    RAND researchers Nidhi Kalra and David G. Groves developed a model to compare 500 different scenarios of autonomous vehicle introduction, adoption, and improvement. The research shows that putting autonomous vehicles on the road sooner, allowing them to improve quicker, could save hundreds of thousands of lives over time.

  • Employees at Atatürk Airport attend a ceremony for their coworkers who were killed in an attack at the airport, Istanbul, Turkey, June 30, 2016

    Commentary

    The Response to Every Terrorist Attack Cannot Be Another Checkpoint

    Jul 1, 2016

    The Istanbul attack will renew calls to extend security screening at the front doors of terminals. But checkpoints create bottlenecks and queues of people waiting to get through them, which then become an easy target.

Explore Transportation Safety

  • Interior of autonomous car with ones and zeroes superimposed, photo by metamorworks/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Why AV Safety and Cybersecurity Need to Be Pursued in Tandem

    Safety and cybersecurity are generally pursued by separate teams within autonomous vehicle companies. A joint approach to standards could optimize safety and cybersecurity and reduce overall risks to autonomous vehicle operation.

    Mar 20, 2019

  • A road work sign on California Highway 101 north warns, "be prepared to stop"

    Commentary

    How to Make Roads Safer for Autonomous Vehicles

    No matter how much developers test autonomous vehicles, the world will still present unforeseen circumstances for vehicles to navigate. Roadways and vehicle design could be modified to better accommodate both human error and the shortcomings of autonomous vehicle systems.

    Feb 6, 2019

  • Car driving autonomously with LIDAR sensor

    Commentary

    The New AV Challenge: Creating a Universal Safety Framework

    Autonomous vehicle developers are pursuing different safety strategies and technologies, making different claims, in different ways, about their systems. A universal framework could provide a more consistent and transparent view of progress in AV safety within and across the industry, better informing the public and policymakers.

    Nov 2, 2018

  • An autonomous car scans the road and stops at a crosswalk

    Report

    How AV Safety Can Be Defined, Tested, and Measured

    The race to introduce automated vehicles to consumers and communities is based on the promise that they will be safer than conventional vehicles. A new framework for measuring AV safety provides the public, automotive industry, and policymakers with clearer ways to discuss AV technology issues.

    Oct 11, 2018

  • Bird scooters outside a restaurant in Santa Monica, California, July 23, 2018

    Commentary

    A Better Way to Think About Scooters

    Unleashed in Santa Monica, California, last September, Bird and its competitors are now in 30 American cities and counting. Cities are responding to the scooter takeover with new regulations and increased law enforcement. But if officials rely only on 20th-century tools to integrate these 21st-century scooters into their cities, they will miss a big opportunity.

    Aug 28, 2018

  • A self-driving car being developed by nuTonomy, a company creating software for autonomous vehicles, is guided down a street near their offices in Boston, Massachusetts, June 2, 2017

    Report

    Rethinking Insurance and Liability in the Transformative Age of Autonomous Vehicles

    What are the challenges and opportunities for the automobile insurance industry as autonomous vehicle technology becomes widely deployed? This workshop brought together industry stakeholders, regulators, and consumer representatives to focus on the implications of AV technology for insurance and liability regimes.

    Jun 8, 2018

  • Aerial view of a highway with cars and trucks in the middle of a green forest

    Report

    Could U.S. Road Deaths Reach Zero by 2050?

    Motor vehicle crashes kill more than 100 Americans every day and are the leading cause of death for people age 15 to 24. A strategy that includes changes in policy, technology, and social norms could substantially improve road safety and lead to zero roadway deaths by 2050.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Report

    The Road to Zero: Executive Summary: A Vision for Achieving Zero Roadway Deaths by 2050

    Imagine that, in 2050, not a single person in the United States dies in a traffic crash. This executive summary to The Road to Zero: A Vision for Achieving Zero Roadway Deaths by 2050 describes how that might be possible.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Tool

    Costs and Effectiveness of Interventions to Reduce Motor Vehicle–Related Injuries and Deaths: Supplement to Tool Documentation

    This report documents the update of an online tool to help assess costs and effectiveness of implementing up to 14 interventions and select those most effective in reducing death and injury from motor vehicle crashes for a given budget.

    Feb 2, 2018

  • Car accident on the side of the road

    Tool

    Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States (MV PICCS)

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated interactive Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States can help state decisionmakers prioritize motor vehicle injury-prevention interventions.

    Feb 2, 2018

  • News Release

    Introducing Autonomous Vehicles Sooner Could Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives Over Time

    Autonomous vehicles should only have to be moderately better than human drivers before being widely used in the United States, an approach that could save thousands of lives annually even before the technology is perfected.

    Nov 7, 2017

  • A self-driving car being developed by nuTonomy

    Article

    Why Waiting for Perfect Autonomous Vehicles May Cost Lives

    Some people think autonomous vehicles must be flawless before humans take their hands off the wheel. But putting AVs on the road before they're perfect improves the technology more quickly—and could save hundreds of thousands of lives over time.

    Nov 7, 2017

  • A still image from the Autonomous Vehicle Safety Scenario Explorer tool showing a line and bar chart, comparing future scenarios with autonomous vehicles against a future without AVs.

    Tool

    Autonomous Vehicle Safety Scenario Explorer

    How safe should autonomous vehicles be before they are allowed on the road for consumer use? To help explore answers to that question, the Safety Scenario Explorer compares future scenarios and estimates the resulting fatalities against a future without autonomous vehicles.

    Nov 7, 2017

  • A self-driving Uber drives in Pittsburgh during a media preview

    Report

    Deploying Autonomous Vehicles Before They're Perfect Will Save More Lives

    Autonomous vehicles should only have to be moderately better than human drivers before being widely used in the United States. This approach could save thousands of lives annually even before the technology is perfected.

    Nov 7, 2017

  • A self-driving car (L) being developed by nuTonomy, a company creating software for autonomous vehicles, is guided down a street near their offices in Boston, Massachusetts, June 2, 2017

    Report

    Model of Automated Vehicle Safety (MAVS)

    The safety of autonomous vehicles is a principal concern for the transportation industry, policymakers, and the public. Comparing the impact on road fatalities under many different scenarios can help understand the circumstances in which autonomous vehicles can provide the greatest safety benefit.

    Nov 7, 2017

  • A Nissan employee rides in a self-driving Nissan Leaf during a preview of autonomous vehicles in Sunnyvale, California, January 7, 2016

    Testimony

    How to Realize Autonomous Vehicle Safety and Mobility Benefits

    Self-driving vehicles could improve public safety. They could also improve mobility for older Americans, people with disabilities, and others. How can policymakers help ensure that these benefits are realized?

    May 18, 2017

  • An autonomous version of Acura's RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD navigates around a dummy at carmaker Honda's testing grounds at the GoMentum Station autonomous vehicle test facility in Concord, California June 1, 2016

    Commentary

    How California Is Trying to Keep Autonomous Vehicle Development on Track

    California's Department of Motor Vehicles recently proposed new regulations governing the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Will this help retain the state's status as a testing and deployment ground for the technology, and will it make California safer?

    Apr 10, 2017

  • Multimedia

    Challenges and Approaches to Realizing Autonomous Vehicle Safety

    An overview of testimony by Nidhi Kalra submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection on February 14, 2017.

    Feb 14, 2017

  • An illustration of autonomous cars on a road

    Testimony

    Realizing Autonomous Vehicle Safety

    Autonomous vehicles hold enormous promise for transportation safety. But feasible, sound methods of testing need to be developed. In the meantime, policymakers should work to foster the development of self-driving vehicles while lowering their risks.

    Feb 14, 2017