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.

Explore Transportation Safety

  • 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

    Enemy of Good: Autonomous Vehicle Safety Scenario Explorer

    How safe should highly automated vehicles (HAVs) be before they are allowed on the roads for consumer use? This tool lets users develop their own future scenarios and estimates the resulting fatalities against a future without AVs.

    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

    RAND Model of Automated Vehicle Safety (MAVS): Model Documentation

    This report describes a simple model of how factors shaping the diffusion and performance of highly automated vehicles may interact and result in different safety outcomes over time.

    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

  • 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

  • Multimedia

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

    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.

    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • A highway at night under a starry sky

    Infographic

    Don't Rely on Test-Driving Alone to Assess Autonomous Vehicle Safety

    Americans drive three trillion miles a year, causing one death every 100 million miles. To prove that autonomous vehicles are safer than humans, they would have to be test-driven astronomical distances. Regulators should pursue other ways of reducing uncertainty about AV safety.

    Jan 9, 2017

  • A fleet of Uber's Ford Fusion self-driving cars are shown during a demonstration in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 13, 2016

    Commentary

    Driving to Safety: Autonomous Vehicle Questions, Answered

    A recent RAND report found that test-driving autonomous vehicles is not a feasible way to determine when they will be safe enough for consumer use. This resulted in a lot of questions.

    Oct 25, 2016

  • Sailors and members of the Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station clear ice from the hatch of the Seawolf-class submarine USS Connecticut in the Arctic Ocean, March 19, 2011

    Commentary

    How to Be Safer in the Arctic

    The Arctic is more accessible than it once was, but it's still a formidable place to travel. An emergency involving a cruise ship or a downed plane could stress the search-and-rescue system. But modest investments and planning measures can make a big difference.

    Oct 3, 2016

  • Dmitri Dolgov, principal engineer on the software team of Google's Self-Driving Car project, speaks during a presentation in Mountain View, California, September 29, 2015

    Commentary

    The Brains Behind Autonomous Vehicles May Need a License to Drive

    Autonomous vehicles require exquisite software. To make this software secure, industry and government should consider educational standards and licensure requirements for the engineers who create it.

    Sep 27, 2016

  • A Tesla Model S with version 7.0 software update containing Autopilot features is seen during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, California, October 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Tesla Fatal Crash Reminds That Human Interface Remains Important

    The first reported fatality in a self-driving vehicle is a chilling reminder that the evolving relationship with increasingly robotic motor vehicles needs to be a partnership, an undertaking with humans and machines managing the risks.

    Jul 30, 2016

  • The interior of a Tesla Model S is shown in autopilot mode in San Francisco, California, April 7, 2016

    Commentary

    Fatal Crash Shouldn't Kill Self-Driving Cars

    The first known fatality in an autonomous vehicle occurred on May 7 and raises important questions. It does not, however, mean that self-driving cars are less safe than human drivers or that development of the technology should be stopped.

    Jul 16, 2016

  • A police officer holds a pen and conducts a field sobriety test on a motorist

    Commentary

    Should Some Californians Lose Their 'License to Drink'?

    In California, many efforts to reduce repeat drunken driving focus on the driving. What if the state targeted the “drunk” aspect instead?

    Jul 6, 2016

  • Streetlights at dusk

    Commentary

    The True Cost of Dimming Street Lights

    Local authorities across the UK have considered reducing street lighting to save money. What impact might this have on crime, night-time traffic collisions, and other outcomes?

    Jun 16, 2016