I’m happy to report that Steve Kuciemba is back with another guest blog post. Steve Kuciemba is the National Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Practice Leader for WSP USA.
The other day I was asked by a public agency client about preparing for the connected & automated vehicle (CAV) revolution. The question was simple: if you could give 3 pieces of advice what would they be? Here’s what I told them:
#1 – Expect a Long Transition – we’re not going to wake up one morning and all vehicles will be self-driving, there is going to be a considerable transition period where vehicles operated by computers will coexist alongside vehicles driven by humans. It could be a period of many years, the mix of vehicle automation could vary by time, location, and technology, and the policy issues will run deep and require time to mature. This will present a number of safety and mobility challenges, and in the coming years the transportation and technology industries will wrestle with them.
#2 – Be Patient/Flexible – a recent report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association provided some valuable guidance including a 5-point recommendation to (a) be informed, (b) be a player in your state, (c) understand the role of states, (d) don’t rush into passing laws or establishing regulations, and (e) be flexible – this is a new game. Those five simple points summarize the state of this fast-moving industry and are great advice for anyone looking to understand the role of state and local governments in CAV.
#3 – Be Ready to Dialogue – when companies begin to discuss testing CAV technology and vehicles in your state or city, everyone should be ready to talk. You can come up with guidelines, you can make check-lists, you can discuss requirements – but at the end of the day there will be a LOT of unique situations requiring simple communication and conversation.
This last point is critical. I’ve talked with a number of State DOT’s and Motor Vehicle Administrations about CAV testing on their roadways, and it’s very tempting to immediately dive into drafting rigorous guidelines and legislative requirements. Let’s welcome this revolution by first encouraging conversation. Talk through the issues, discuss the safety implications, and agree to communicate continually as the testing progresses.
Dialogue is the path to success!
If dialogue is crucial, than MA should be in good shape with a Gov Baker appointed Autonomous Vehicle Working Group and a City of Boston Mayor Walsh appointed AV cabinet committee. I just wish we had more OEM’s willing to start a public conversation before legislation is enacted and limits there opportunities to succeed.