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Southern Christian Leadership Conference Joins Waymo-led Public Education Initiative

July 27, 2021

Partnered with Southern Christian Leadership Conference

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We are pleased to welcome the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) as a new partner of the Waymo-led public education campaign Let’s Talk Autonomous Driving.

 The SCLC is a national civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and has been a powerful voice and steadfast advocate for social justice and equity since 1957. Its partnership with Let’s Talk Autonomous Driving will help advance dialogue around mobility equity and bring greater visibility to how fully autonomous driving technology could make transportation safer and more accessible for all.

“It is important that we continue to be the voice of the voiceless in all spaces, including the new market of autonomous driving technology,” said Dr. Charles Steele Jr., president and CEO of the SCLC. “Our partnership will focus on the opportunities autonomous vehicle technology may provide to all people.”

Communities of color suffer a higher rate of pedestrian fatalities because of systemic inequities, such as subconscious bias on the part of drivers, highways that historically have cut through poor communities of color, and lack of pedestrian infrastructure, like sidewalks and crosswalks, in these same neighborhoods and suburbs. According to Smart Growth America, from 2010-2019, Black people were struck and killed by drivers at an 82 percent higher rate than white, non-Hispanic Americans. A 2021 analysis by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that people who are Black account for the second-highest rate of total traffic deaths, pedestrian traffic deaths and bicyclist traffic deaths after American Indian/Alaskan Native persons.

Waymo’s autonomous driving technology is designed to be constantly vigilant, obey road rules, and take the safety of road users – from pedestrians to cyclists – into account. 

Autonomous driving technology has the potential to help close gaps between public transit hubs and doorsteps, bringing more mobility options to those who rely on public transportation. For those who cannot drive themselves, such as people who are blind or have disabilities, the technology could bring a greater degree of freedom and independence by safely handling all the tasks of driving.

“For more than six decades, SCLC’s powerful voice and actions have advanced the needs of communities of color, including at the intersection of mobility and broader societal issues,” said Suzanne Philion, head of communications, marketing and public affairs at Waymo. “The SCLC team will be an invaluable addition to the conversation about how autonomous driving technology could advance mobility equity for all people.”

Let's Talk Autonomous Driving is excited to welcome SCLC to our partnership. We look forward to working together to advance discussion around how autonomous driving technology could improve mobility equity and ensure safety for more people and road users. 

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