Self-driving cars could help millions of Americans with disabilities find jobs, study finds

Michele Lee, senior director of public affairs at Cruise, works with disability groups to ensure their transportation needs are met. Photo courtesy of Cruise

Widespread availability autonomous vehicles (AV) could boost the US economy by hundreds of billions of dollars by bringing more people with disabilities into the workforce, according to a new study, Reports by Joann Muller.

Why is this important: Transportation is a huge barrier for people with physical or developmental disabilities.

  • Public transport services often do not adequately meet their needs.

By the numbers: Only 21% of Americans with disabilities participated in the labor force in 2021, compared to 67% of people without disabilities.

  • And the unemployment rate for disabled people was 10% that year, double that of able-bodied people.

Details: The study, by the National Disability Institute, claims to be the first to examine the potential macroeconomic impact of AVs.

  • If reliable and affordable self-driving cars were widely available, an estimated 9.2 million more Americans would join the workforce, the researchers found.
  • This includes 4.4 million direct jobs for Americans with disabilities, as well as many other indirect jobs.
  • The federal government would see $120.7 billion in benefits, including $93 billion in additional tax revenue and a $28 billion reduction in spending on social safety net programs.

To note : The study was commissioned by General Motors Corporation Cruisewhich is developing a robotaxi service and has every interest in seeing more AVs on the road.

What to watch: GM is seeking regulatory approval for its driverless Origin robotaxi, which has no steering wheel or pedals.

  • He wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to raise the cap on the number of vehicles it can deploy.
  • GM and Cruise are designing a version of the taxi to serve people in wheelchairs and those who otherwise need extra assistance.

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