Highway

Many experts agree that self-driving vehicles will be part of our transportation future.

Dan Sperling of the Institute for Transportation Studies at UC-Davis says that could lead to streets clogged with driverless cars.

Sperling: “With automation, people can do anything they want in the car – they can eat, sleep, drink. And left to their own doings, they’re going to actually use the vehicle much more.”

So he says to reduce transportation-related carbon pollution, self-driving cars must be electric. And they must be accompanied by a cultural shift toward car-sharing and ride-pooling.

Sperling: “What we really want is more than one passenger per vehicle.”

Sperling says services like Uberpool and Lyft Line – which charge less when you share a ride with other passengers – are already laying the groundwork for the ride-pooling of the future.

And he says municipalities can help speed this transition by creating policies and financial incentives that reward ride-sharing.

Sperling: “I’ve come to believe that the only opportunity to reduce vehicle miles traveled – vehicle use – is by combining together the pooling and, eventually, automation.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.