It’s no April Fools’ Joke – technology is literally driving how people and goods move and automated vehicles are gaining more traction in the public policy world.
On April 1st, Eno Center for Transportation released a report entitled, “Beyond Speculation 2.0: Automated Vehicles and Public Policy.” This report updates the Center’s 2017 report entitled, “Beyond Speculation: Automated Vehicles and Public Policy,” and delves into the current and future state of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) as well as the current, proposed, and expected implication for federal, state, and local policy. The overarching goal is to provide an overview of the current policy area and provide substantive recommendations for policymakers to test and deploy CAVs on our nation’s public roadways.
The report determines that the primary goal of CAV federal and state policy should be to ensure public safety, provide consistent framework for developers, and create an environment where rules can adapt to an unknown future. All levels of government must take a performance-based approach, as CAVs are still in the development phase, instead of imposing rigid technical guidelines. Federal actors have a visible role in regulating the safety of CAV driving systems, while state and local governments have more flexibility in areas they have traditionally managed, including roadway design, rules, and licensing.
According to this report, technology has always been an agent of change. CAV technology will continue to rapidly alter the transportation landscape with ever-changing implications for society. As CAV development progresses, appropriate public policies are critical to managing the safe and efficient deployment with innovative and measured action currently needed to lay future groundwork.
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 are able to 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, and submitting public comments on CAV development and communications. 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.