Self-driving cars have a secret weapon

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As the techies buzz about Apple's possible new entry into the self-driving car market, the debate also rages over their future chances of ever seeing the road.

Many transportation experts argue that self-driving cars will never be fully allowed on U.S. highways because of insurance concerns and political barriers.

But this isn't just a futuristic or financial debate. The fact is one fast-growing segment of the U.S. and world population could help swing this question very much in favor of the self-driving car movement.

I'm talking about people with disabilities who now rely on other people or services to drive them around. For many of those people, the kinds of self-driving cars now being developed would be a new and more independent option.

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Considering the plight of people with disabilities could also be very attractive to politicians. First, they may love the ability to eliminate some of the very costly funding for disabled-customer-friendly public transportation because of the prevalence of self-driving cars. Second, imagine the political points that could be won by bringing in a disabled citizen to testify at a Congressional hearing about how self-driving cars could change her life!

Machiavellian reasoning aside, what's missing in this debate is a heart-tugging issue. And focusing on the godsend this could be for so many very challenged people is one way to give it an emotional boost.