October 2016


U.S. DOT Issues New Guidance for Automated Vehicles

By Kevan P. Stone
     NACo Associate Legislative Director

On September 20, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued new policy guidelines for the testing and eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles (driverless cars). 

The guidance includes four major components:

15 Point Safety Assessment New documentation 

The Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles for manufacturers, developers and other organizations includes a 15 point “Safety Assessment” for the safe design, development, testing and deployment of automated vehicles.

Model State Policy

Clarifies federal and state responsibilities for the regulation of highly automated vehicles and suggests recommended policy areas for states to consider with a goal of generating a consistent national framework for the testing and deployment of highly automated vehicles.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Regulatory Tools Outlines

NHTSA’s current regulatory tools used to ensure the safe development of new technologies, such as interpreting current rules to allow for greater flexibility in design and providing limited exemptions to allow for testing of nontraditional vehicle designs in a timelier fashion.

Modern Regulatory Tools

Identifies new regulatory tools and statutory authorities that policymakers may consider in the future to aid the safe and efficient deployment of new lifesaving technologies.

Additionally, NHTSA also released a final enforcement guidance on the recall process for autonomous vehicles.  They point out that semi-autonomous driving systems that fail to adequately account for the possibility that a distracted driver-occupant might fail to retake control of the vehicle may be defined as an unreasonable risk to safety and subject to recall.

NACo will continue to monitor guidance and possible rulemaking as it pertains to autonomous vehicles.  “Since counties own and maintain 45 percent of the nation’s roads, and are responsible for public safety at the local level, any policy on the use of new technologies on these roads is important to counties,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of NACo’s transportation Steering Committee.  McLaughlin, a commissioner in Hennepin County, Minnesota, plans to make education on this new technology an important pillar of the committee’s agenda this year. 

View the Full Policy and additional materials.

Questions? Kevan Stone  E: kstone@naco.org  T: 202-942-4217

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