U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Automated Vehicle Policy Statement

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From the horse carriage to the invention of the automobile and now the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV), technology continues to redefine how we move within the built environment. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to address these fundamental concerns by providing policy statements which provide a framework on CAV technology development and integration. Under much anticipation, the fourth iteration of CAV policy entitled,  Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies(AV 4.0), was recently released and provides further direction on how this emerging technology will continue to operate on our nation’s roadways. ASCE submitted comments which encourages CAV technology deployment that supports stronger planning, design, operation, and maintenance of surface roadways; enhances research opportunities; and prevent traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.

Developed by both DOT and the White House National Science and technology Council, AV 4.0 discusses the CAV-related activities of 38 different federal agencies and commissions and attempts to place those activities within an overall federal policy framework. AV 4.0 also provides policy direction within three key criteria:

Protect Users and Communities

  • The federal government will continue to prioritize safety by enforcing current laws to ensure deceptive claims are not made about CAV technology.
  • The federal government will continue to emphasize security and cybersecurity by supporting the secure design and implementation of CAV technologies. This will include working with developers, manufacturers, integrators, and CAV service providers to ensure this goal.
  •  There will be a holistic, risk-based approach to protect the security of data and the public’s privacy as CAV technologies continue to be designed and implemented.
  • CAV technology will be a tool to enhance mobility and accessibility across all communities, while respecting consumer choice, and continue to operate alongside conventional, manually driven vehicles.

Promote Efficient Markets

  • The federal government will remain technology neutral and adopt flexible policies with the goal of allowing the public to choose the most economically efficient and effective transportation and mobility solutions.
  • There is a promise to protect innovation through the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights—patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets—technical data, and sensitive proprietary communications.
  • There is also a promise to revise or eliminate regulations that impede the development of CAVs or that do not address critical safety, mobility, and accessibility needs.

Facilitate Coordinated Efforts

  • DOT under this policy statement, a commitment has been made to prioritize participation in and advocate abroad for voluntary consensus standards and evidence-based and data driven regulations.
  • The federal government promises to ensure a consistent federal approach to proactively facilitate coordination of CAV research, regulations, and policies across agencies.
  • The federal government will direct attention to improve transportation system-level performance, efficiency, and effectiveness while avoiding negative transportation system-level effects from CAV technologies.

In ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, our nation’s infrastructure earned a cumulative grade of a “D+,” and states that infrastructure challenges remain significant, but solvable. We can address our infrastructure deficit through strategic and sustained investment, bold leadership, thoughtful planning, and careful preparation for the needs of the future. As we seek out opportunities to rebuild our existing infrastructure system, it is imperative that we courage the use of ever-changing CAV technology as viable alternatives to help increase capacity, enhance existing transportation infrastructure and improve safety.

ASCE’s government relations team has stayed actively engaged in this growing field through our public policy development, as well as through recent regulatory and legislative outreach. As this technology quickly develops, we will remain actively engaged to ensure the needs of the profession are effectively represented in this growing, ever-changing technology.

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