September 2017 

DOT Unveils New Guidance for Automated Driving Systems

By Kevan Stone, NACo Associate Legilsative Director, Transportation
     Christopher Harvey, NACo Legislative Assistant

On September 12, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) unveiled new guidance for Automated Driving Systems (ADS) entitled A Vision for Safety 2.0.

The purpose of this voluntary guidance is to support key stakeholders as they consider and design best practices relative to the testing and deployment of automated vehicle technologies. The new guidance also updates the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy released in September 2016 by the Obama Administration and serves as NHTSA’s current operating guidance for ADSs.

The voluntary guidance outlines 12 safety elements that are generally considered to be the most pertinent design aspects to consider and address when developing, testing, and deploying ADSs on public roadways:

  • System safety 
  • Operational design
  • Object and event detection and response
  • Fallback (minimal risk condition)
  • Validation methods
  • Human machine interface
  • Vehicle cybersecurity
  • Crashworthiness
  • Post-crash ADS behavior
  • Data recording
  • Consumer education and training
  • Federal, state, and local laws

The new version of the guidance “is clearer, more streamlined, less burdensome, and contains additional information for states,” according to a DOT release. According to NHTSA, they encourage collaboration and communication between Federal, state, and local governments and the private sector as ADS technology evolves.

This quickly evolving landscape makes it imperative that county officials understand these advancements when making decisions about future needs.  Additionally, it is NACo’s goal to ensure any future guidance contains mandatory reporting standards that ensure safety standards are adhered to and enforced for public safety.

Also of particular note is the guidance stating that technology could outpace this framework, reserving the right to update methods to keep with technological advances. 

This past July at NACo’s Annual Conference, the Transportation Policy Steering Committee considered and passed an ADS resolution. The Board of Directors then adopted the ADS resolution focusing on implementation and unfunded mandates, building upon a previous resolution supporting this technology.  NACo will continue to monitor at the legislative and regulatory level the development of ADSs and their impact on counties.

Read more about the ADS Guidance.

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