"Limiting the number of plastic bags that can litter the landscape or clog the oceans is a worthy goal, but laws that begin with good intentions often have unintended consequences," writes Judy Gruen.
"...Though reducing plastic-bag use might be good for the environment, encouraging the re-use of plastic bags for food-toting may not be so healthy for humans. After San Francisco introduced its ban on non-compostable plastic bags in large grocery stores in 2007, researchers discovered a curious spike in E. coli infections, which can be fatal, and a 46% increase in deaths from food-borne illnesses, according to a study published in November 2012 by the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University. "We show that the health costs associated with the San Francisco ban swamp any budgetary savings from reduced litter," the study's authors observed.
To be fair, the government is taking steps to make your next drive better. Federal officials recently endorsed connected vehicle technology that should improve highway safety (though the system won't operate at peak efficiency until state and local leaders also invest in intelligent infrastructure). And it's certainly not to say the private sector always gets transportation right. Private road investments, for instance, can go terribly awry.
Winston and Mannering urge the government not to interfere with driverless technology — except, perhaps, to resolve some critical social questions about liability. But it won't be enough for public officials to sit idly by. The emergence of a driverless fleet will only draw more attention to the poor condition of America's roads and its broken transportation funding system. Try as they might, that's one problem public officials can't avoid for too much longer."