PennDOT Implements Automated Vehicle Safety Oversight Plan

"Given public concerns about safety on Pennsylvania roadways, we must implement interim oversight policies while we await legislative action on our request for permanent authorization," Secretary Leslie S. Richards said.

PennDOT has outlined its multi-step action plan to increase safety oversight of Highly Automated Vehicles in Pennsylvania. PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards discussed the voluntary testing policy April 9 at an Automated Vehicle Summit in Pittsburgh.

"Given public concerns about safety on Pennsylvania roadways, we must implement interim oversight policies while we await legislative action on our request for permanent authorization," Richards said.

The Automated Vehicle Policy Task Force was created in June 2016 and worked with industry, academic, and government stakeholders to deliver policy recommendations to the General Assembly in November 2016.

Building on the task force's previous work, PennDOT will take the following steps in the next 60 to 90 days:

  • Richards will convene a meeting of the testers regarding the interim policies.
  • The Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force will be reconvened to update testing policy recommendations.
  • Until legislation sought by the administration is enacted, PennDOT will ask all testers to comply with the following testing policy. Testers would submit a "Notice of Testing" to PennDOT, including:
    • Basic Information: the name of the company, address, phone number, e-mail; identify principal point of contact for the testing;
    • Verification attesting that the HAVs meet all federal and state safety standards and meet the policies adopted by PennDOT;
    • Proof of a driver/operator training program (PennDOT strongly recommends clean driving records for HAV operators);
    • Certification that all drivers have met/passed program requirements;
    • Name of approved "drivers," with valid DL numbers;
    • List of vehicles that will be involved in the testing and their VIN and/or Plate number;
    • Routes or geographic location for testing;
    • Basic overview of Operational Design Domain (ODD) including constraints. The ODD describes the specific conditions under which a given HAV is intended to operate, including where (such as what roadway types and speeds) and when (under what conditions, such as day/night, weather limits, etc.);
    • Proof of insurance; and
    • Immediately halt testing of any HAV that knowingly shares hardware or software with a vehicle that is part of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

    PennDOT will also continue to recommend that the General Assembly adopt legislation providing for AV testing on public roadways, subject to the department’s safety oversight and requiring compliance with its testing safety policies. In addition, PennDOT will initiate a letter from multiple state DOT and transportation agencies to call for the creation of an independent certification mechanism.

    PennDOT recommends the federal government take the following actions:

    • The National Highway Safety Administration should revise Guidance 2.0 to make a safety checklist mandatory. It now is voluntary.
    • Congress should amend current HAV legislation to strengthen state control over roadway operations with respect to HAVs.
    • Third Party safety auditors should adopt independent certification similar to the work Underwriters Laboratories does. This would help reduce system failure (both software and hardware).

    "HAVs hold much promise for enhanced mobility and economic prosperity, but much work remains to be done before the technology matures to the point where widespread use will be accepted," Richards said. "Pennsylvania welcomes the continued testing of HAVs but wants to do so in a way to ensure safety is not compromised."

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