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Policy Statement 548 - Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

 
Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on July 18, 2018  
Approved by the Committee on Public Policy on August 7, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on October 11, 2018
 

Policy  

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the planning and development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) as part of an integrated transportation infrastructure system. Furthermore, the Society encourages the inclusion of features in CAV technology that support stronger planning, design, operation and maintenance of surface roadways, and prevents 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. 

Issue

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.

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 there was 7.2 million in total police reported motor vehicle crashes. During this time frame, the National Safety Council has reported 40,100 deaths as a result of motor vehicle crashes and has estimated that total injuries are to be at nearly 4.57 million with a cost of motor vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage at $413.8 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, 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 (V2I) technologies are being developed and tested to prevent or mitigate crashes. V2V and V2I technologies must improve safety for the passenger and provide increased efficiency for existing infrastructure.   

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, government entities, and 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.

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 autonomous 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.

Rationale 

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 to 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 does not risk human safety or cost human lives and continues to improve our transportation infrastructure network. 

ASCE Policy Statement 548  
First Approved 2016  
 


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