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STATE Policy Agenda

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Autonomous Vehicle Policy

The development of fully autonomous vehicles will enable tremendous societal benefits by improving vehicle safety and access to transportation for disabled people, the elderly, and others who cannot currently drive themselves.  Fully autonomous vehicles will improve safety by reducing the severity and frequency of automobile accidents and will mitigate other inefficiencies of current motor vehicle use, such as congestion. 

TechNet supports policies that encourage the safe deployment of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads in the United States.  These policies include the promotion of investment in infrastructure and other architecture that will enable and accelerate autonomous vehicle operations.

TechNet is concerned that well-intentioned state policy frameworks will unintentionally stifle innovation and impede the safety benefits of this technology.  States should avoid adopting policies that will create or maintain barriers to the testing and development of this technology and the benefits that come with it. 

The state program supports the following principles:

  • Special “fully autonomous vehicle” regulations for human-operated vehicles with “autonomous” features should be avoided.  When a human is in the driver’s seat with immediate access to driver controls, existing law is sufficient and there is no need to impose additional requirements or restrictions.
  • Policymakers should avoid vehicle performance standards, safety regulations, or certifications that supplement or go beyond, overlap, or conflict with federal law, regulations, or autonomous vehicle guidance.  A patchwork of policies will stifle or impede innovation.
  • Frameworks, regulations, and constructs that restrict competition or limit operation of self-driving vehicles to only one segment of innovators or automotive technologies should be avoided.  Policies should ensure companies that test or deploy fully autonomous vehicles are accountable for the safety of their products.  Policies should be technology-neutral, avoid picking winners and losers, and prioritize public safety.
  • A human operator for operation, testing, and deployment should not be required.  Policymakers should not predetermine how the technology will develop or legislate technology by specifying the role of a human in its development.
  • Local ordinances, or other formal local sign-off, as a prerequisite for testing or deployment within a state should not be required.  TechNet believes that a patchwork of local laws and regulations would be unnecessarily burdensome and could impede travel between jurisdictions. 
  • Support voluntary compliance with the guidelines outlined in “Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles.” https://www.nhtsa.gov/technology-innovation/automated-vehicles
  • Accident or disengagement reporting requirements would burden innovation.  The operation of self-driving vehicles in the state should be subject to the same reporting requirements as other, human-driven vehicles, but no more.  For statistical comparisons of self-driving and human-driving vehicles to be fair and accurate, they must employ the identical data set for each type of vehicle.
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