BOSTON (Jan. 17, 2017) – A white paper commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation and Securing America’s Future Energy has revealed that an astonishing two million employment opportunities could be opened and $19 billion in annual healthcare expenditures could be saved if people with disabilities had access to the basic transportation needs that could be provided by autonomous vehicles. The paper, titled The Ruderman White Paper on Self-Driving Car Technologies: The Impact on People with Disabilities, also encourages a greater dialogue surrounding the potential benefits that these emerging transportation technologies can offer to people with disabilities.
Despite those with disabilities representing nearly 20% of the U.S. population, the most recent government transport survey indicated that six million individuals with a disability have difficulty getting the transportation they need. The transportation sector is one of the largest industries in the United States, interacting with nearly every facet of the economy, however this access still remains off-limits to many in the disability community, leading to much lower rates of employment, health care, and income.
“Self-driving vehicles have the potential to significantly improve transportation, employment, access to healthcare, and simply general inclusion of people with disabilities,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “This is why, as developers move to create fully autonomous vehicles, it is imperative that the disability community be fully included and consulted in every step of developing and mainstreaming this new technology.”
Autonomous vehicles are anticipated to upend the automotive industry, with the market for these new vehicles expected to reach $560 billion, and an anticipated $1.3 trillion in annual savings to the United States’ economy through savings on fuel, accident avoidance and increased productivity, according to a Morgan Stanley report.
The report, co-authored by Henry Claypool, Policy Director at the Community Living Policy Center at the University of California, San Francisco, Amitai Bin-Nun, Director of Autonomous Vehicle Initiative at Securing America’s Future Energy and Jeff Gerlach, Senior Policy Analyst at SAFE, calls on an urgent need to develop a common agenda at the intersection between autonomous vehicles and disability policy, requiring broad political organization, and eventually action, in order to make progress and ensure the voices of individuals with disabilities is heard.
“With the release of this paper, it becomes clear that self-driving cars will make it possible for millions more Americans to have better access to healthcare, live more independently and achieve greater economic self-sufficiency,” said Claypool.
As well as significantly increasing the country’s productivity and expenditure, there is also a legal commitment to be upheld. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that if a private company offers such transportation services, equal access to public accommodations must be made to provide the same services to people with disabilities as those without.
“Technology has finally made this dream of a fully inclusive transportation system possible and it is on us to do what we can to make this a reality and uphold the values of one of our most historic legislations, the Americans with Disabilities Act,” continued Ruderman.
Please view the complete white paper here.