Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on February 12, 2021
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 5, 2021
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 16, 2021
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the planning and integration of connected and automated vehicles (CAV) as part of a unified transportation infrastructure system. Furthermore, the Society encourages the inclusion of features in CAV technologies that support stronger planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of surface transportation infrastructure systems and prevent traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.
ASCE encourages CAV programs that will incentivize industry to deploy these systems to: help the nation keep pace with worldwide development; improve human safety; enhance our transportation infrastructure system; and move people and goods efficiently.
It is recommended that industry work cooperatively with Federal, State and Local governmental agencies to establish national standards for the planning, design, deployment and maintenance of transportation infrastructure and operating systems needed to support CAV deployment including protections for data privacy. These standards will define a protocol to guide the development of connected and automated vehicle systems by the private sector. They will also establish a framework for local jurisdictions which can be used in the planning, implementation, and maintenance of uniform and fully compatible infrastructure and operating systems necessary to support it.
Technology is advancing rapidly. Roads are becoming more congested and driver safety is a continuing concern. Deployment of CAV technologies could safely increase highway capacity, enhance existing transportation infrastructure, improve vehicle performance, and strengthen driver safety, and create innovation opportunities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018 there was 6.73 million in total police reported motor vehicle crashes. During this time frame, the National Safety Council has reported 36,560 deaths as a result of motor vehicle crashes and has estimated that total injuries are to be at nearly 2.71 million. According to NHTSA in 2020, the economic costs of traffic crashes cost nearly $150 billion annually.
- 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.
- According to a Human Factors for Connected Vehicles study by NHTSA, connected vehicle technologies have the potential to mitigate the crash types occurring in over 82 percent of all crashes currently being experienced where drivers are not impaired, which could save a significant number of lives and crash related injuries, and avoid tens of thousands of crashes each year.
- 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.
- Technology improvements can provide stability control, automatic braking, all-wheel drive, steering by wire, traction control, collision avoidance, 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.).
- Automated vehicles (AVs) possess hardware and software collectively capable of performing some aspects of safety-critical control functions (e.g., steering, throttle, and braking) without direct driver input. AVs may use vehicle sensors, cameras, GPS, telecommunications to obtain
- information in order to make decisions regarding safety-critical situations and act appropriately by effectuating control at some level. In this way, the AV infrastructure and the roadway infrastructure are interdependent.
- Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technologies are being developed and tested to prevent or mitigate crashes. V2X technologies must improve safety for the passenger and provide increased efficiency for existing infrastructure. Connectivity to 5G systems will be required and enough spectrum band must be preserved to support V2X technologies.
While these technology options can provide an opportunity for increased safety, we must continue to ensure that CAVs are a means to improve not only human safety, but also our transportation infrastructure.
As we continue to invest in our surface transportation infrastructure, we should look at opportunities to make smart investments that enhance growing technology. Despite opportunities to increase existing roadway utility, there are also mounting concerns that the availability of CAVs will increase vehicle miles of travel resulting in increased congestion and uncertain capacity needs if policies governing their use are not carefully considered. Consideration should be given to the following:
- As CAV technology continues to develop, cooperative systems must be achieved through strong partnerships between vehicles manufacturers, infrastructure owners and operators, government entities, freight transport and logistics professionals, transportation safety groups, law enforcement, first responders, and other private sector actors.
- Our nation's transportation infrastructure system needs to meet the growth and demands of CAV technology. Strong and resilient infrastructure must be in place to adopt new transportation technology and address the impact on infrastructure.
- It is important to invest in the infrastructure system to ensure CAV technology is properly implemented. There must be a complete and properly maintained infrastructure system in order to maximize the safety benefits that CAV technology can provide.
The United States' long-term economic vitality and global competitiveness will depend on its ability to move people and goods in a safe and efficient manner. CAV technologies are rapidly being developed. Investments in CAVs are encouraged as viable alternatives to help increase capacity, enhance existing transportation infrastructure, 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 CAV technologies. This national framework will prevent a patchwork of individual state-deployed policies in which some pilot programs have had continued safety issues that have resulted in injuries. Ultimately, the goal is to have technology that improves and continues to improve our transportation infrastructure network.
ASCE Policy Statement 548
First Approved 2016
The other ASCE policies that relate to connected and automated vehicles:
PS 454 - Intelligent Transportation Systems
PS 557 - Smart Cities
PS 564 - Broadband