Will Tesla Self-Driving Cars Affect Traffic Law Enforcement

Tesla Model 3

AUG 14 2017 BY EVANNEX 23

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X


Self-driving electric vehicles are on the way, and they will transform our society. Some of the impacts seem pretty predictable – there will be much less need to devote urban space to parking, and a lot of taxi and Uber drivers are likely to lose their gigs.

However, there will be important changes in many other fields, some of which are just beginning to be discussed.


Tesla Autopilot may soon help you avoid traffic tickets

How will the advent of self-driving cars affect traffic law enforcement? Florida law firm Denmon & Pearlman has considered the question carefully, and created this infographic to illustrate some of the issues involved.

It’s widely expected that autonomous vehicles will make our roads safer. According to Denmon & Pearlman (a list of sources is provided at the bottom of the infographic), 94% of crashes are caused by human error. Widespread adoption of self-driving cars could reduce both the number of accidents and the rate of fatalities. That means fewer police officers and EMTs working accident scenes, a duty that we’re sure they would be happy to avoid.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.

Above: Tesla sent out a tongue-in-cheek April Fool’s Day prank video saying a software update would help avoid parking tickets (Twitter: Tesla)

Self-driving cars could also mean fewer traffic stops – according to Denmon & Pearlman’s sources, around 800,000 drivers get pulled over every day, and vehicle autonomy could eliminate some 56% of these stops. That would surely be a good thing for all concerned. For law officers, traffic stops are time-consuming and stressful. For drivers, they are embarrassing and potentially expensive. In rare but well-publicized cases, they result in tragedy.

Depending on how you look at it, however, the news isn’t all good. Less need for traffic enforcement will mean fewer jobs for police officers, and fewer traffic tickets will mean less revenue for local governments. D & P estimate that speeding tickets alone represent $6 billion in fines every year. If 1 out of 4 cars is self-driving by 2030, that revenue could shrink by 25%. Will law-abiding citizens have to pay more in taxes to make up the shortfall?

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X interior

Many other questions present themselves. Who will get the ticket in the case of an accident involving a self-driving vehicle? Whose insurance company will pay for the damages? Will crooks and con men find ways to take advantage of vehicles’ autonomous features for fun and profit? One thing seems certain: there will be new opportunities for law firms that stay abreast of the latest technology.



Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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23 Comments on "Will Tesla Self-Driving Cars Affect Traffic Law Enforcement"

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Hmmm … ok, the author obviously is reaching as far as numbers related to autonomy impact. Difficult to say where the cards will fall, but yes generally one would think that there will be less traffic cops needed do silly stuff like issuing traffic tickets for 10 over, or check your insurance paperwork for no other reason (can’t believe it’s still occurring in some parts of the developed world …)

On contrary, hopefully some jurisdictions will finally increase the ridiculous and often unwise low speed limits. Hopefully they also will stop the “Speed kills” campaign ….

I always thought the “speed kills” campaign was stupid. Reckless driving kills, not speed. The Germans are not exactly known as being reckless, but they only apply speed limits on their autobahn where it’s necessary, such as urban areas. Everywhere else, there is no speed limit, other than an overarching “drive according to the conditions” as California already does.

“stop the “Speed kills” campaign”

This is my sure-fire way to solve all traffic problems in freeway: all posted speed signs mean minimum speed limit. Anyone caught driving slower than the minimum gets a speeding (or slowing) ticket.

It doesn’t matter if there’s a car in front of you or that you were trying to merge. You shouldn’t get on the freeway if it’s too crowded, and drive quick enough car to reach the posted speed limit before the end of the on-ramp.

Maximum speed is, as we all know, 186,000 miles per second.

Of course, this makes way too much sense, it will never be implemented.

I guess you just finished watching Mad Max or something. It makes no fricking sense at all what you are proposing here!

Your attitude is, frankly, incredible. You expect police officers to enforce the law (all of them) and catch the crim that just burgled your house and is driving off home with all your goodies (for example) yet you imagine that there is a way for a police officer to know that that dodgy-looking guy, driving a poorly maintained car (most criminals are that stupid) is the burglar – without stopping him and engaging in a face to face exchange (and getting an opportunity to at least look through the windows of his car (yep, they are that stupid, too). Like using telepathy or something. I can’t believe people are still so ignorant in some parts of the developed world …

And speed *does* kill. Again, you appear ignorant of the most basic Laws of Physics – with increased speed, the killing capability increases exponentially. It’s that simple.

I think the real question is when will Tesla have actual self driving cars. Until then I don’t see why you need to worry about the “what if”.

Why would the question of “When” matter in this specific story?

Would any of the content of this story change if the “when” is 1 year or 5 years or 20 years?

I feel pretty confident in stating that in another 5 years, nobody will be claiming that self-driving cars will have such an insignificant impact on the accident rate as this infographic claims. Really, reduced from 4.2 per million miles to 3.2?

If we’re talking about full autonomy, then surely the reduction in the accident rate will be much, much better than that!

There is quite a bit to unpack in that infographic. Here are a few of my thoughts… 1) 1 fatality/90 million mi vs 1 fatality/130 million mi & 4.2 accidents/million mi vs 3.2 accidents/million mi: This is, respectively, a 30% and 25% drop. While significant, this doesn’t seem to match up with the idea that 94% of accidents are due to human error. You’d expect a steeper drop, unless this number is based on 25% penetration by 2030? 2) I expect significant resistance from cops and local government for the revenue reasons stated above. As John Oliver pointed out a couple years ago (video below – warning: NSFW), local municipalities depend a lot on revenue from tickets. And it’s not just the fines themselves, it’s the fees and it’s interest collected when low income folks are forced to finance their tickets because they can’t afford to pay it. For too long, these sorts of fines and fees have existed so some politician somewhere could say “See! I didn’t raise taxes!” The revenue bit in particular is problematic (one would expect that self driving cars would allow urban police to redirect more resources towards crime). Hell, even parking fees and fines!… Read more »

Missed the risk of arrest reduction for drug dealers slide….

And so what happens when you hop in a self driving car that is ALSO being used as a drug mule?

Drug dealers will use the autonomous abilities of vehicles owned by other people to deliver to pre-determined locations without themselves having to be present for a transaction. Count on it.

Have already seen this going on with a friend’s tesla he rented out on a “airbnb for cars”…. where his car got impounded when the driver got busted.

Drug interdiction has proven to be a failed drug abuse prevention methodology anyways. Drug interdiction does NOT reduce drug abuse, and has not had any impact on drugs reaching the street since the 1980’s. Drug supply lines have matured too much since the 1980’s for interdiction to have any actual impact on drug abuse rates. It used to be that when the DEA made a major interdiction arrest of a large shipment of a certain drug coming across the border or between states, they would see a price hike on the street as the drug became hard to get. But starting in the early 1990’s this completely ended. The DEA began to actually see street prices drop and drugs increase in availability after a large interdiction arrest. This is because the drug cartels had managed to pad their delivery supply line with stored product throughout the United States. So when there was a major bust, they would respond by flooding the market with warehoused product already in different regional warehouses. Furthermore, simple interdiction arrests rarely actually catch the actual higher level drug dealers. It only catches either hired mules that are instantly replaced by a new mule, or a low… Read more »

Beyond the Evanex Kool Aide,
-Cities are reducing driver lanes, becoming more bike/pedestrian friendly
-Not parking means staying on the road
-“27%” fewer speeding stops mean going slower
-Premium services will wait for their owner in the street, on everyone else’s time/road.

I think we’re past the point where really neat aids can assist drivers, at becoming more safe. Needless to say, I don’t share our researchers future view. People like to drive in the country, and L5 is doomed in the cities. Where cars aren’t rejected outright, its use will be unbearably slow.

It’s not like you’ll be cruising around on the software engineer’s time.

Them newfangled motorcars are just a passing fad. Get a horse!

I think if a self driving car gets a ticket the bill for the ticket would come though the mail to who ever owns the car at their house.

Indeed. Shifting away from having cops pull over cars in a traffic stop may well lead to an increase in the number of tickets, and revenue from them, from increased use of traffic cameras and automated ticket issuing.

Assuming that municipalities will willingly give up that revenue just because people start using self-driving cars, seems rather naive.

If you are driving through small towns in NV I suggest you set autopilot under the speed limit. Without revenue from tickets a lot of town will dry up and blow away.

Of course there are lots of rural areas that do that, I just found that NV does it exceptionally well.

I think if you have a level 5 self driving car, the ticket should go to the manufacturer. You have no control over a level 5. Heck, even level 4. If i’m not needed to intervene, I’m just a passenger.

Some of the claims seem questionable at best. Given that driving under the influence or distracted driving is involved in over half of traffic accidents, why would the infographic claim that the accident rate will drop by significantly less than half?

Elon Musk says Tesla aims to reduce the accident rate by 90%. That may well be overly optimistic, but to claim it will reduce it by only 31% seems rather timid.

And why would anyone riding in a self-driving car get a ticket for “driving” on a suspended license? If he’s in the back seat, will the cop still claim he’s “driving”?? Makes no sense to me.

“Less need for traffic enforcement will mean fewer jobs for police officers, and fewer traffic tickets will mean less revenue for local governments.”

Will it?

I once read about a small town which got most of its municipal income from traffic tickets issued to motorists passing on a nearby highway, and most of those tickets were for technical violations — broken tail-lights, improperly displayed tags, and the like.

If there is a shift towards self-driving cars, how many police departments will simply shift the emphasis away from moving violation tickets to technical violation tickets? Certainly some will!

The ‘infographic’ is complete nonsense.

How it goes from ‘self-driving cars’ to some sort of rant about police stop and search powers is beyond me.

As the pie chart showing ‘Why people are pulled over’, which bit of “I don’t have a driving license, officer” is ‘unavoidable’? All the others ‘unavoidables’ are equally avoidable by simply complying with the law. And this isn’t, contrary to some extraordinarily silly people’s belief, a means to simply get money out of hapless motorists, but a way to try to stop them from harming themselves and others. Given the 40k road deaths in the US alone every year, it seems to me the authorities need all the help they can get Pathetic anti-authoritarian hogwash like this blatant advertisement for a ‘law’-firm certainly doesn’t help.

“Less need for traffic enforcement will mean fewer jobs for police officers,”

I sure hope not. I get very frustrated when cops spend all their time handing out speeding tickets instead of catching criminals. I phone in a break-in and theft, and the response is “Do you have insurance?” and I say “Yes”, he says “Tell your insurance company it was reported”. I say “Don’t you want my name and address”, “No, not necessary.”

I never knew that self-driving cars could mean fewer traffic stops. That would definitely make an impact on law enforcement. I’ll have to consider your information as car tech develops. https://www.trafficlawyersuffolkcounty.com/