One of the political battles currently being waged in Minnesota is cannabis legalization. The reason the battle is so heated is because law enforcement agents are opposing legalization because they know it will hurt their funding from civil forfeiture laws. This will likely be the reason why law enforcement agents will also oppose legalizing driverless cars:
Google’s driverless cars have now combined to drive more than 700,000 miles on public roads without receiving one citation, The Atlantic reported this week. While this raises a lot of questions about who is responsible to pay for a ticket issued to a speeding autonomous car – current California law would have the person in the driver’s seat responsible, while Google has said the company that designed the car should pay the fine – it also hints at a future where local and state governments will have to operate without a substantial source of revenue.
Approximately 41 million people receive speeding tickets in the U.S. every year, paying out more than $6.2 billion per year, according to statistics from the U.S. Highway Patrol published at StatisticBrain.com. That translates to an estimate $300,000 in speeding ticket revenue per U.S. police officer every year.
Driverless cars are less likely to violate traffic laws. As driverless cars become more prevalent this will cause the number of traffic citations issued by police to dwindle. Without the kickback from those citations departments will find that their funding will also dwindle. In other words this is why we can’t have nice things.
One of the major problems with modern policing is the fact that it incentivizes the creation of criminals. The more criminals that exist in society the more money law enforcement agencies can rake in. That creates a conflict of interest as law enforcement agencies are incentivized to support any measure that creates more criminals and oppose any measure that reduces the number of criminals. This conflict of interest becomes especially egregious when you consider that technology like driverless cars have the potential to save a lot of lives by reducing traffic accidents.