Automated Vehicles: Economic Incentives for Environmental Benefits and Safety

Automated vehicles (AVs) offer great promise for unprecedented improvements in mobility and safety. However, the self-driving vehicles have significant behavioral implications that can increase fuel consumption due to increased road travel. This is because the time cost of driving, the single largest cost in passenger vehicles, is greatly reduced if drivers' can safely divert their attention elsewhere. Thus, AVs may have large unintended consequences in terms of additional energy use and greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector and have the potential to further decrease the density of the urban areas. Moreover, the historic method of funding the nation's roadway infrastructure, primarily from excise taxes levied on fuel, is not fiscally sustainably and leads to an inefficient use of the transportation infrastructure and large external costs. The environmental and welfare non-sustainability is due to the mismatch between the rates of taxation per gallon of fuel and social costs which accrue per mile driven that depend on location, time of day and fuel type. This research will use an economic, welfare-theoretic approach to derive a set of tax mechanisms to promote the safety benefits of AVs, reduce their potential unintended negative impacts on the environment and address the need to better match user fees to fund the nation's road infrastructure. Mechanisms will consider fuel, mileage, vehicle registration, and excise taxes.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Start Date: 20131001
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180930
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39345

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01557727
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: New England University Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC31, UMER25-37
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Mar 25 2015 1:00AM