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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.
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.