Jaywalking Could Become Legal Thanks to Driverless Cars

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【Summary】According to a report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, cities should limit autonomous vehicles to 20 miles per hour and allow pedestrians to cross streets leisurely.

Original   Vineeth Joel Patel  ·  Nov 10, 2017 1:00 PM PT
author: Vineeth Joel Patel   

As anyone that's drawn a triangle can attest to, the easiest and most productive way of getting from two points is in a straight line. While individuals in suburban areas can cross streets at their own leisure, those living in cities are required to cross streets at predesignated crosswalks or face the wrath of the law. Crossing at predesignated crosswalks can be incredibly annoying, but it's done this way because pedestrians and drivers are unpredictable. 

No one really knows what a driver or pedestrian are planning to do, besides themselves. Having a predesignated area for drivers to look out for pedestrians simplifies the process in the hopes of making things safer. Autonomous cars, though, are supposed to be much safer than the average driver. And with the substantial number of sensors and cameras that are plastered on the vehicles, they should be able to detect pedestrians more quickly than the average human, as Uber demonstrated in its overview of the company's fake city last month. 

Making Life Easier For Pedestrians

With that in mind, a report by CNN claims that jaywalking could become legal in cities around the United States when self-driving cars hit the road. Citing a report from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), which is a nonprofit organization that represents cities on various transportation issues, CNN claims that jaywalking could be allowed sometime in the near future. 

The report by NACTO suggests that cities limit autonomous vehicles to a speed of just 20 miles per hour, which, depending on what city you're from, is either much slower or faster than the speed the majority of drivers end up traveling at. In addition to the speed restriction, NACTO wants cities to allow pedestrians to cross anywhere they deem fit. 

"The instinctive human act of walking straight to one's destination, pejoratively known as ‘jaywalking,' becomes simply ‘walking,'" says NACTO. 

The adoption of driverless vehicles, as CNN claims, will give cities the ability to rethink how city streets function. As the outlet reports, crossing the street at any location was okay until 1920 when the term "jaywalker" came to light. It wasn't until 1925, though, until Los Angeles made jaywalking illegal and pedestrians were arrested for crossing the street at undesignated areas. 

Pedestrians Become The Focal Point

At the moment, jaywalking is currently illegal, but the act isn't as strictly enforced as it once was. Still, NACTO believes that being able to cross the street at any location would be one of the largest changes for pedestrians in an autonomous future. 

While being able to cross the road wherever a pedestrian chooses is a small upside to a driverless future, NACTO warns that cities may become so packed with autonomous vehicles that pedestrians may be forced to cross streets on bridges to get over the traffic. 

There's still a lot of things that cities need to work out before autonomous vehicles become mainstream, one of those being whether pedestrians or vehicles have priority over streets. "We have a historic opportunity to reclaim the street and to correct the mistakes of a century of urban planning," said Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO's chair. As more and more cities begin to accept autonomous cars do to the various upsides to the technology, the focus of cities will revert to making things easier for inhabitants, which, from our perspective, is a good thing.

via: CNN, NACTO

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