PennDOT Secretary: PA has quickly become a national leader in autonomous vehicles.

Another project that excites Richards is the increased use of autonomous, or driverless, vehicles.

“Pennsylvania has quickly become a national leader here,” especially in light of work done at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, she said. “My kids think it’s really cool.”

She said driverless cars offer many potential benefits, including a huge drop in highway-related deaths, which totaled 1,200 in 2015 in the state, and other traffic problems. “DUIs may become a thing of the past,” Richards said, referring to cases of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Furthermore, driverless cars can increase mobility and social involvement for disabled people and senior citizens, she said.