The development of autonomous vehicles (AVs) offers the potential to enable tremendous societal benefits by improving vehicle safety and access to transportation for disabled people, the elderly, and others who cannot currently drive themselves.  Development of AVs could significantly enhance the safety and efficiency of goods movement, helping better meet consumer demand while promoting innovation and growth across various sectors of the economy.  AVs may likewise improve safety by reducing the severity and frequency of automobile accidents and mitigate other inefficiencies of current motor vehicle use, such as congestion.

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

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

The state program supports the following principles:

  • Regulations should be avoided that impose conflicting burdens on vehicles with varying levels of technology.
  • State policymakers should avoid vehicle performance standards, safety regulations, or certifications that supplement or go beyond, overlap, or conflict with federal law, regulations, or AV guidance. A patchwork of policies will stifle or impede innovation.
  • Frameworks, regulations, and constructs that restrict competition or limit operation of AVs to only one segment of innovators or automotive technologies should be avoided. Policies should be technology-neutral and foster continued innovation in the industry, avoid picking winners and losers, prioritize public safety, and protect intellectual property.
  • 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. 
  • States should not require a pre-market approval process for the deployment of AVs. Support voluntary compliance with the guidelines outlined in “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0.”
  • The operation of AVs in the state should be subject to the same accident and operating reporting requirements as human-driven vehicles, but no more. Federal reporting laws are sufficient to address the states’ interest in assessing road safety.
  • Policies that promote the growth of and investment in AV operations.
  • State laws and regulations should be updated to remove legal barriers to driverless deployment of AVs on public roads, including vehicles with novel designs.
  • Use of definitions and terminology consistent with the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) J3016 (2016).
  • Vehicles equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are not AVs, and TechNet works to educate policymakers on the unique and distinct nature of both ADAS and AVs. State laws should prohibit vehicles equipped with ADAS from being advertised as AVs.
  • Avoiding special licensing and registration for AVs and special permits for testing or development.
  • Seeking and maintaining uniformity of existing laws and policies on negligence, insurance, and product liability, unless and until the need for change is demonstrated.
  • Bills should provide a clear path to the commercial deployment of AVs.
  • Government should not mandate the sharing of businesses’ data that it cannot adequately analyze and use to promote further innovation.
  • Creating a line of communication and providing industry expertise to various state AV task forces, while prioritizing the state AV task forces that are actively considering legislative proposals that may impede AV innovation.
  • Policymakers should avoid any regulations that limit or delay the use of AVs in public transportation systems. Limiting AVs in public transportation will deny mobility benefits to the riders that need it most.

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