Ensuring driver and pedestrian safety and regulating a still nascent technology are among the top issues of concern covered in a new report about autonomous vehicles from the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices.
The report aims to guide state governors and other leaders on the successful deployment of the technology.
To date, some 30 states and the District of Columbia have explored self-driving vehicles at varying degrees — ranging from allowing vehicle testing to setting up some form of regulatory framework that strikes a balance between safety and flexibility.
As states navigate implementing this new technology, they face a number of potential public safety opportunities and challenges. Ensuring public safety for all road users is listed as the top challenge, according to the paper.
Specifically, notes the report, state public safety and transportation officials are responsible for ensuring that all roadway users — drivers, passengers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, commercial drivers, and pedestrians — are provided a safe experience on public roadways. Officials must consider how to integrate new automated and driverless-technology with existing modes of transportation so as not to compromise road safety. Some test programs have reported challenges with traditional road users reacting and sharing the road with fully autonomous vehicles, yielding in low-speed crashes.
The report offers guidance on how to best deploy the technology and recommends the following actions steps for governors:
- Designate a lead agency.
- Establish an interagency workgroup.
- Collaborate with local and federal agencies and policymakers.
- Facilitate an environment that allows for testing and deployment.
- Retain oversight and maintain regulatory authority over testing.
- Coordinate with law enforcement. Ensuring public safety requires extensive law enforcement coordination during testing and deployment.
- Establish a robust training program for law enforcement.
- Explore public-private partnerships between operators and regulators.
Read the full autonomous vehicle report at the NGA's website.