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News & Press: Federal Policy

12/15/17 Letter Regarding AV START Act

Monday, December 18, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lauren Santangelo
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December 15, 2017

The Honorable John Thune
Chairman
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
512 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Bill Nelson
Ranking Member
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
425 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Gary Peters
Member
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson and Senator Peters:

Across the country, a growing number of Americans enjoy commuting and recreating by bike and walking. As there is greater deployment of autonomous vehicles on our roadways, we must ensure the groundwork is laid for safe integration with non-motorized transportation users.

An important part of ensuring the safety of all users of our transportation system, including bicyclists and pedestrians, is clarifying the relationship between federal and state regulation of motor vehicle laws as the presence of autonomous vehicles on our roadways increases. Specifically, the application of the term “performance” to the autonomous context is complex due to the merger of the vehicle and the operator. The term “performance” should be further clarified to prevent conflicts with local traffic laws. With this approach state and local laws will continue to focus on operational safety laws regulating motor vehicles and their operators after autonomous vehicles have been introduced to public roadways. Amending the underlying legislation or adding report language to clarifying this relationship is important to ensuring states and local communities can implement appropriate safety laws for their roadways.


Additionally, the top priority should always be ensuring the safety of all users of the transportation system. The statute should not prevent state and local governments from being able to experiment with innovative ways to ensure the greatest possible benefit from the safe integration of autonomous vehicles. For example, local governments could use methods such as congestion pricing and vehicle miles traveled fees to limit the likelihood of “zombie vehicles,” or autonomous vehicles driving around without their owners to limit the need for parking. Similarly, the statute should permit local governments the opportunity to take advantage of more efficient use of infrastructure by autonomous vehicles and reserve some areas of public infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. We believe these clarifications could ensure states and local communities will be able to protect the public safety of all users of our roadways, including motorized and non-motorized users, and ensure more efficient use of our infrastructure for all modes.

We are pleased the AV START Act authorizes a Highly Automated Vehicles Technical Committee to advise the Secretary of Transportation on the wide range of issues greater deployment of autonomous vehicles will have on our transportation system. In order to ensure safe interaction between autonomous vehicles and non-motorized users of our transportation infrastructure, it is important that the AV START Act ensure that this committee includes a representative with expertise on the safety of non-motorized users and also creates a working group focused on this issue.

Additionally, the working group responsible for safety education for advanced driver assist systems and automated driving systems should include a focus on driver education regarding the safety of non-motorized users. This education will help the safety of all users of our transportation system.

Although the AV START Act recognizes the importance of studying ways to improve traffic safety with the deployment of autonomous vehicles, a critical component of this research must be the integration of autonomous vehicles with non-motorized users of our transportation system. The legislation should include funding for this research.

We look forward to working with you as the Senate continues consideration of the AV START Act.

 

Sincerely,


PeopleForBikes
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
League of American Bicyclists
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals


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