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Policy Statement 548 - Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

 

Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on April 29, 2016
Approved by the Committee on Public Policy on May 13, 2016
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 9, 2016

Policy 

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the planning and development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV). Included are technologies to advance deployment of CAV and planning, design, operation and maintenance of surface roadways that support them. ASCE encourages the continued development of CAV technology as a viable and promising alternative to conventional surface transportation approaches.

ASCE encourages pilot programs and programs to help incentivize industry to deploy these systems and to help the nation keep pace with world development of these rapidly evolving technologies.

Issue

Technology is advancing at breakneck speed. Roads are becoming more congested and drivers are increasingly distracted. The rapid deployment of connected and autonomous technologies will increase highway capacity, improve vehicle performance and enhance driver safety.

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of the nearly 6 million annual roadway crashes are the fault of drivers, which result in nearly 33,000 deaths each year and 2 million injuries valued at a cost of more than $836 billion.
  • According to the Eno Center for Transportation, the number of annual crashes could be reduced by 211,000 and 1,100 lives would be saved even if only 10% of vehicles were converted to self-driving vehicles.
  • Numerous technologies have been and are continuing to be developed that can improve safety and can help reduce distracted driving. Currently, there are several areas where technology can fill in the gaps of human performance and take action to improve safety and mobility. As examples:
    • Technology improvements can provide stability control, automatic braking, all-wheel drive, steering by wire, traction control, collision avoidance and blind spot warning systems, lane control, and automatic cruise control.
    • Infotainment systems linked to cell phone technologies (e.g. Bluetooth and voice activated commands) in vehicles, reduce distracted driving (e.g. from texting, looking down at a phone for directions, searching for an address, etc.).
    • Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure technologies are being developed and tested to prevent or mitigate crashes.

Despite opportunities to increase existing roadway utility, there are also mounting concerns that the availability of autonomous vehicles will increase vehicle miles of travel resulting in increased congestion if policies governing their use are not carefully considered. 
Industry must partner to keep connected vehicles and autonomous vehicle systems from being hacked and from other unauthorized access, and appropriately protect the data to address privacy concerns.

Rigorous testing of connected/autonomous vehicles is required to provide sufficient data to determine safety performance and help policy makers at all levels to make informed decisions about their deployment. 

Rationale 

The United States' long-term economic vitality and national competitiveness will depend on its ability to move people and goods. Connected vehicles and autonomous vehicle technologies are rapidly being developed. Investments in connected/autonomous vehicles are encouraged as viable alternatives to help increase capacity, improve safety, and may be more sustainable than conventional approaches. 

The federal government has an instrumental role to implement policies that develop a national framework for compatible connected/autonomous vehicle technologies to prevent a patchwork of individual state-deployed policies that are evolving. 

Other related ASCE policies: 
PS 367 Highway Safety
Draft PS Vision Zero

ASCE Policy Statement 548
First Approved 2016

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